In the spirit of Thanksgiving, as we all reflect on those things in our lives that we’re thankful for, why not take the time to ponder how this mindset can also apply to our professional lives.
At every moment of your day, you have a decision to make. You can focus on what’s right, or you can focus on what’s wrong. You’ll find that most people tend to focus on the latter, because that’s what they know and that’s how they’ve been taught to think.
But what about that small percentage of people who always seem to see the glass as half full, even in the most stressful of situations? How did they get there? And how are they able to remain so calm under pressure and see the good in every single situation? Simple. They make a conscious effort to make gratitude a priority in each and every situation they encounter.
Great Leadership is A Daily Practice.
Leading with gratitude is more courageous than leading without – it can be extremely difficult even at the best of times. Looking at business through a lens of gratitude does not come naturally to anybody – it is a learned and practiced trait, taking a lifetime for the majority of people to master as a daily practice.
In every situation, you’re always going to catch yourself looking at the negative aspects first. But as soon as that happens, you’ve got to be able to catch yourself right in that moment and shift your perception. Kind of like a car’s radio, you’ve got to be tuned into the correct frequency if you want to listen in.
Every situation, properly perceived, is an opportunity for growth. That mindset is how the greatest leaders of our time have been able to inspire revolutionary innovation in their teams. By focusing on everything that is good with the world and finding something meaningful in nothing, these leaders created organizations that empowered those around them to unlock their full potential.
Keep your ego in check
There’s a great deal of power in a little bit of humility. While it may feel good to vent, complaining leads you nowhere and feeds a sense of hopeless and helplessness in the workplace, whereas gratitude fuels promise and potential amongst your team. The greatest leaders know how to check their ego at the door and reject the traditional hierarchy of business as part of their leadership style.
Ego is a funny thing, we often view it as a strength and a crutch, when it is really the thing that holds us back the most and becomes our undoing. Being angry, hurt or offended creates the same negative atmosphere that made you feel angry, hurt or offended in the first place. The way to truly transform any situation is to throw your ego in the back seat and lead from the heart (but you have to be smart about it too – after all, you do have a bottom line to protect).
Following the impulses of your ego is a sure way to rob your team of happiness and fulfillment in the workplace.
Your Leadership Style is Contagious
As a leader, the traits and qualities you exemplify set the standard at every level of your organization. If you have an explosive temper and offer harsh, unfiltered criticism to those around you, that behaviour will be displayed to their teams, and stretch outward to the most junior level of staff in the organization in a domino effect.
If you know that you can often share harsh words and stick your foot in your mouth, simply being conscious of this characteristic is your best defence. In a situation where you must give corrective feedback to a member of your team, highlight the strengths of the individual while presenting the correction as an opportunity for growth, rather than disciplinary action.
The best stand up comics are able to get away with saying just about anything because they make fun of themselves first, and that makes them appear more relatable to audiences and shows that they’re also in on the joke. This can also be a great practice as a leader where you bring more humanity to your role by offering transparency into your own areas of growth.
By displaying to your entire team that you look at your leadership role through a lens of gratitude, you are encouraging others to do the same. Small changes in the way we think and perceive minor, everyday situations can have a world of effect, not only in the bottom line of your business, but also in the personal lives of your employees.
A revolution of gratitude within your organization is always possible, but it all starts with you.