LEADERS DON’T DO WHAT i DID THIS WEEK 2023-11-27T00:16:31-05:00


I hope everyone reading this week’s newsletter enjoyed a peaceful and meaningful Thanksgiving holiday. As I do each year this week, I am focusing this newsletter on the Thanksgiving theme, but not in a way that necessarily reflects well on me.

This past week, both here in Maryland and down in Austin, Texas, where my wife and I celebrated the holiday with our son, his fiancé and her family, I made time to send out Thanksgiving texts to important people in my life: relatives, friends, people with whom I do volunteer work, coaching connections, and former work colleagues.

I received some lovely texts in return and I felt good about reaching out to these people. I was gratified that many folks made time during the busy week to reach back out to me and express their love and gratitude for our relationships, past and present. It added happiness to an already celebratory week.

However, after basking in that glow for a short while, I began reflecting and asking myself significant questions:

-Why had I waited until Thanksgiving week to express my gratitude to all these important people I have met along my life’s journey?

-Why had I used this holiday to express feelings that were there all the time?

-Why had I felt so good about communicating feelings that these same people would have enjoyed hearing about from January through November?

As leaders, we know the importance of feeling and expressing gratitude. Numerous empirical studies, books and journal articles have discussed the importance of clearly communicating gratitude to others.

And yet so frequently we wait for a special occasion to express our gratitude to others:

–work anniversaries,
-particular work accomplishments,
-a company milestone

As we ponder the importance of expressing our thanks, we can ask ourselves: To whom can we communicate our gratitude on a consistent basis:

-Leaders who have served as mentors to us

-Leaders who inspire us on a continuing basis

-Colleagues who help us reach beyond our self-imposed limitations

-Direct reports who challenge us in meaningful ways

-Colleagues who support us through tough times at work and at home

-Coworkers who teach us new and important skills

-Members of our professional network who help us see old problems with new mindsets

-Friends and relatives who serve as unofficial coaches for us along our leadership paths

-Colleagues who lend a helpful ear when we really need to feel understood

-Friends who help us find the real reason for our dissatisfaction or confusion

-Colleagues who help hold up a mirror to us so we can see how we are really showing up in meetings and conversations

-Clients or customers who have offered helpful insights about our products or services

-Volunteers who have reminded us about the power and importance of giving our time energy, and effort

We know that gratitude is a positive reinforcer for all colleagues. We know that gratitude should be articulated as soon after an episode or event as possible. We know that gratitude ought to be delivered as specifically as possible rather than in general terms.

Gratitude is the fuel that energizes so many work cultures. It motivates our colleagues. It drives people to improve. It infuses offices and departments with positivity.

So please remember to follow that old admonition: “Catch people doing something right!” Then express your thanks and admiration.

Please do not do what I did this past week – don’t wait for Thanksgiving week to express your gratitude for your colleagues, friends and family.

Let those feelings flow all year long – your community members will feel better when you do. And you will feel better as well!!!

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