Thoughts on Leadership: 'Thanks-Giving' Is a Powerful Leadership Tool

Thanksgiving brings to mind family, food and football. But it's also a special holiday in which we celebrate gratitude and think about the things in life for which we are thankful. As we move full-steam into the holiday season, I've started thinking about how great leaders show genuine appreciation for the efforts of those they lead. They create situations to recognize those efforts in special ways that connect with their followers.

A little "thanks" goes a long way, as long as it is specific and genuine. Excellent shows of appreciation by managers and leaders can improve employee morale and motivation.

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, spend time over the next few days working on and implementing one or all three of these ideas:

1. Invest a few minutes each day to write down a couple of specific things you appreciate about each of the people on your team. Then, invest just one to two minutes with each individual person to share what you wrote in a face-to-face conversation. 

2. In your next staff meeting, open it up by going around the table one person at a time and share one thing you appreciate about each individual on your team. The public show of appreciation will have a huge impact on the overall morale of your team and create a collective and contagious positive feeling.

3. Write a hand-written "Thank You" note expressing your gratitude for the contributions your team member has made. Again, be specific as to what it is the team member does to contribute to the effort. Handwritten notes tend to be forgotten about in this day of e-mail and text messaging and I guarantee will have a huge impact.

During this week of Thanksgiving celebration, we are given a wonderful opportunity to express our gratitude and thanks in several ways to all who support us in our business and life endeavors.

This is a short work week for many of us, and that may create added pressure, especially if you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner. Consider your priorities: Is there room for a little reflection and reaching out to clients, customers and colleagues in a meaningful way? Think about a time when someone went the extra mile to let you know how you’ve touched their life.

For example, from time to time I receive an email notification regarding an Intero employee who has been doing an exemplary job. A certificate of appreciation is then created and given to that employee along with the copy of the email from who brought it to my attention, which shows the exceptional job they are doing. Our very own IT department recently received this type of certificate for going the extra mile and doing an outstanding job. I even told the IT staff that since they have been going above and beyond, soon their entire wall in their department will be full with certificates of recognition. These types of awards are meaningful to me and have helped me to understand the importance of a heartfelt expression of gratitude.

In addition to the ideas above, the following is a leadership list of "Thanks-Giving" to help you reach out and say thanks to those you have the privilege of leading and serving:

  • Be grateful that you were given or developed the patience to cope with the daily stresses and strains of leadership. Keep reminding yourself that it's all worth it in the end.
  • Be inspired to motivate, coach and teach those who invest valuable time in their lives and careers with you.
  • Be in awe of the opportunity that you have in front of you to positively impact people in ways that few other jobs or professions provide.
  • Give thanks for your chance to learn from others.
  • Be grateful for your unique chance to serve others.
  • And most of all, just give thanks by speaking up and remembering that a well-placed, heartfelt “Thank you” is one of the most powerful and important leadership tools.

What gratitude offerings will you extend this week and during this holiday season ahead?

Look at your client list and pick one unique quality that you appreciate about each person on your list. How have they impacted your business and/or life?

Now, step into your genuine self and, in true leadership style, let them know.