Gratitude: The X Factor For Engagement

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85% of people around the world are not engaged or are actively disengaged with their work. (Gallup December, 2017). The result is a $7 trillion loss in productivity worldwide. Sadly, this trend has been holding steady for more than 20 years.

It seems that everything in the world economy has changed except how leaders continue to miss the opportunity to engage people.

Gratitude: Could this possibly make a difference?

Yes.

What we desire and need as human beings in order to be engaged at work is to be respected, offered the opportunity to learn and grow and to be thanked for our contributions. Consider this:

  • Over 6 million people have watched Brother David Stendl Rast’s TED Talk on Gratitude.
  •  20,654,524 candles of gratitude have been lit from 194 countries through Brother David’s organization called A Network For Grateful Living.
  • The brightest minds in science, literature, medicine and the arts all express a deep understanding of the mystery, wonder and necessity of bringing our hearts and thankfulness to our every endeavor in order to unlock the fullness of human potential.

Indeed, we hunger for gratitude and we intuitively know that in a workplace where it is practiced, a more civilized, creative and thriving world will prevail. And yet, the research tells us that leaders worldwide are ignoring this inner wisdom and failing to engage the hearts and full commitment of their teams.

Curiosity, creativity and innovation are all human experiences that come from the integration of heart and mind. In organization life, we often forget this and we work only from the neck up, with our minds. Over-investing in rational thought and intellect is a great folly for leaders and is an epidemic in global leadership as we see from this multi-decade pattern of dismal engagement numbers. It is an approach to leadership where the primary mode of operation is believing that the mind provides the only road to solutions and results. It is an over-emphasis on tasks with not enough focus on people and expressing appreciation to those people  through which all things happen.

When we do this, we leave behind our potential genius and our ability to unlock the genius of others. The result of which is a lack of engagement and, subsequently, results that are a fraction of what they could be.

Another Program Is Not The Answer

Gratefulness is a powerful tool for building extraordinary and engaged teams. We don’t need another program to raise engagement. We need to coach leaders to lead with gratitude and reward them for doing so.

To be grateful leaders means we are paying attention to our people and to what is happening right now and to the opportunity in every moment. We are comfortable with ambiguity and, therefore, we are allowing ourselves to be surprised by ideas, people and situations. We are listening and responding. We are focused on others, not on ourselves.  We are operating with complete faith that in doing so, the results will come, and they do.

Grateful Leadership Behaviors

When we demonstrate grateful leadership we:

  1. Ask questions that help people learn to find answers as opposed to giving them the answers.
  2. We operate from a place of curiosity, not judgement.
  3. We act as catalysts and coaches to unlock potential, not as commanders and controllers to drive the execution of our own ideas.
  4.  We see ambiguity as the opportunity for innovation and for developing our confidence and that of our teams in finding the best solutions in previously unchartered waters.
  5. We never stop looking for the potential within people and every day do our best to unlock it one person at a time.
  6. We lead with reverence which exhibits itself as showing deep respect for others.
  7. We regularly thank people for their efforts.

Daily Practices To Develop Grateful Leadership Skill

Leading with gratitude is not difficult but it requires practice in order to bring the necessary balance to the dynamic between mind and heart. Here are some ways to develop your ability to lead with gratefulness:

  • Start every day being thankful that you are alive.
  • Practice paying attention to each moment and each person.
  • Every day express appreciation to your team.
  • Slow down, look around. Let the wonders of the world, be it nature, science, literature or art penetrate your heart.
  • At the end of each day write down one thing that you have done as a leader to leave the day better than it was when you entered it.
  • Subscribe to a gratitude website like A Network For Grateful Living and get daily messages that remind and inspire you.

If you want to work with these practices, try rating yourself on a scale of 1-5 (1=I don’t do this and 5= I consistently do this) on each of the 7 grateful leadership behaviors listed above. Set goals and action plans to improve. Utilize at least one of the daily practices suggested and then rescore yourself in 30, 60 and 90 days. Take note of how your practices help increase the engagement of your team and, wonderfully, your own happiness as a leader.

Sheila Madden works as an executive coaching supporting leaders in technology, healthcare, non-profits and higher education.

Copyright 2018 Sheila Madden, Madden Coaching & Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

5 Things Successful Leaders Know That Make Us Want To Follow Them

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The amazing Dr. Maya Angelou understood the profound difference between management (what is done) and leadership (how things are done). She expressed it with her unique heart-full clarity when she said: “People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

6 Things Courageous Leaders Never Fail To Do

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90% of the problems that leaders face, and their subsequent solutions, are ambiguous, according to a study done by Korn Ferry/Lominger. To deal with this ambiguity requires spaciousness in thinking and being. It is not about always having the answer and proving to be the smartest person in the room. Rather, it requires having humility and respect for the responsibility of creating an environment where people can learn to  think, innovate and problem solve successfully while navigating through the unknown.
Continue reading → 6 Things Courageous Leaders Never Fail To Do

Kindness: The Surprising X Factor For Successful Leaders

dalailama

“My Religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”    The Dalai Lama

Kindness is a leadership characteristic that will deliver financial and humanitarian returns beyond imagination. It helps us create work environments that are based on trust and that allow people to express and experience meaning and purpose at work.
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5 Ways Super Successful Leaders Operate

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“I want to know God’s thoughts, the rest are details.” Albert Einstein

Einstein believed that God’s thoughts were accessible and that he could hear them if he got himself into a certain state of mind, the mind of imagination. When he said that imagination is more important than knowledge, my guess is that he came to that insight after he experienced what many of us have experienced: Knowledge can only take us so far.
Continue reading → 5 Ways Super Successful Leaders Operate

5 Questions Leadership Teams Should Be Asking Themselves Everyday

 

womenexecconvoLeadership = Fierce Conversations Required

Our lives are a series of relationships, the success or failure of which happens one conversation at a time.  The same is true for our organizations. The quality of the conversations that executive teams have among themselves will either help  their organization succeed, under-perform or potentially fail.
Continue reading → 5 Questions Leadership Teams Should Be Asking Themselves Everyday

Seven Things Successful People Do When Interviewing

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From Interview To Conversation

I’ve been doing quite a bit of career coaching in the last three years, particularly working with people on developing their professional brand and their go-to market strategy.

When I coach my clients on how to be their best in interviews the intention is to transform the interview into a conversation.   A conversation is when people, either one-on-one or in the case of panel interviews one-on-many, show up on equal ground to talk about problems that need to be solved, skills required and potential partnerships/opportunities to be had.
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Want To Be The best At What You Do? Take Naps, Seriously

polarsnappinFor 25 years my husband has been teasing me about my inability to take a decent nap. He can take a nap anywhere, anytime. The usual scenario for us is that we lie down and within two minutes he is sound asleep and snoring. Within five minutes I am twitching with restlessness. Within six minutes my mind has turned into a roller coaster of thoughts about what I should be doing, what I have forgotten to do, what I am worried about doing or not doing and a thousand “what ifs” that torture me unmercifully. In the meantime my husbands slumber continues and the deeper his innocent and effortless sleep goes the more agitated I get. Not just because he is right, I can’t take a decent nap, but because I want to and I haven’t been able to figure out why I can’t!
Continue reading → Want To Be The best At What You Do? Take Naps, Seriously

5 Things No One Will Tell You About Being A Great Leader

10871528-leadershipLeadership failures are failures of the soul. They are always the result of people losing sight of who they are, what their real job is and what the right thing is to do. We tend to make leader heroes out of those who have the sexiest products, the most successful innovations, the best financial results or IPO’s. Those are all great results, but they are just that: the results of great leadership.  But what is the actual secret leadership sauce that is the catalyst for creating results like these? There are lots of combinations of things, which definitely include external as well as internal factors. But when you examine those stellar leadership stories, you will generally find individuals who understand that these 5 building blocks are key for creating a foundation for great leadership. 
Continue reading → 5 Things No One Will Tell You About Being A Great Leader