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Why Resilient Leaders Need To Embrace Gratitude

Research continues to link gratitude to business results.

James Pritchett
Source: James Pritchett

If you are familiar with my work, you know that I strongly believe resilience is an essential attribute for modern leaders. What we haven’t delved into, but what looms large in my mind in this month of gratitude (thank you Vets and Pilgrims), is the role thankfulness plays in resilient leadership.

In general, gratitude and work are not placed in the same schema. But research continues to illuminate the link between gratitude, resilience, leadership, and business results.

In fact, when you consider the data, it is hard to appreciate why any leader wouldn’t be more appreciative of their teams, their companies, or their clients.

Let’s take a closer look.

Gratitude Encourages Resilience for the Leader

The seminal research that has been done on resilience emphasizes the role gratitude plays in emotional regulation (a key facet of resilience). As a nice bonus, this research also outlined how acts of gratitude were directly related to physical well-being.

Another 2003 study by psychologists Robert. A Emmons and Michael E. McCullough not only reinforced these findings, but also discovered that gratitude has a positive impact on optimism and goal-orientation.

So taking a minute to share genuine appreciation for the work of your team isn’t just an HR mandate—it is an opportunity to boost your own resilience, productivity, and health to boot.

Gratitude Encourages Resilience for the Organization

Yet in spite of these benefits, a growing body of studies reveal the prevalence of what the Wall Street Journal has coined as the workplace gratitude deficit. In fact, a recent survey found that among 2,000 participants who agreed nearly unanimously on the importance of workplace gratitude, only 10% reported actually expressing thanks to peers, direct reports, and clients on any given day.

This data is surprising, especially given other research that shows companies that emphasize employee recognition are 12 times more likely to reap strong business results.

With all that to gain, one wonders why more organizations and more leaders aren’t making gratitude a priority in their day-to-day workflows.

How Resilient Leaders Can Add Gratitude Into Their Day

All of us hate that annual meeting on performance. From my years of experience, I can tell you that expressing gratitude for good work builds confidence and trust in every staff member. They know you are aware of what they have done and what you value about what they have done. It builds trust in themselves, trust in each other, and trust in you. And the annual meeting on performance is an entirely different meeting. Try it!