Showing gratitude makes me a better leader

  • Posted on March 15, 2021
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
showing gratitude makes me a better leader

Early role models

Gratitude and recognition have been core to me since my early days. Their application to the workplace was exemplified to me at my first office job, by dad.  When I was 18, I became an intern at a packaging company where my dad worked as a manager. That 3-month gig turned into 5 years. These were formative years for me as a professional as I learned many of the attitudes and behaviors that I've carried with me through my career. I watched the way my dad treated his team each day. A true human leader, he genuinely SAW each of the members of his team and showed them great care and appreciation, always giving credit where credit was due and openly expressing gratitude for their work.

My mother is a psychotherapist who embodies positive thinking. She lives her life through a lens that amplifies the good and beauty in things. We have countless repetitions of helping each other appreciate the little things in life and drawing attention to reasons to be grateful. This life perspective translates into how I encourage and support my team; gratitude and recognition as a driver for bringing out the best in people.

Today, I'm incredibly grateful to lead our Experience Design and Product Management teams in Canada - I try to show up each day as a human first seeing each of my colleagues for their uniqueness and sparing no opportunity to express my appreciation

Gratitude helps us connect

You know how giving a gift often feels better than receiving one? Expressing gratitude is just like that. It’s about feeling the efforts and contributions made by our colleagues each day. It’s a way of connecting with each other and saying, "Hey, I truly see what you did, and I genuinely appreciate that you did it.”

I'm constantly moved by what our people are capable of and the remarkable things they do for clients. I try to constantly remind them of that. It's in our nature to desire belonging with people around us, and showing gratitude strengthens trust and deepens our relationships.

Being on the receiving end of gratitude is great, too! Recently, a team member expressed gratitude towards me, and it was awesome. They said that the way I lead the team has inspired them to develop their own inner leader. My focus as a leader is to develop future leaders within our company - to multiply our talent. So, in my mind, these words were a giant high five to me, igniting the connection I feel with my team and providing me with great energy. I openly shared how much it meant to me to hear that.

Openly expressing our gratitude acts as a cultural amplifier, fostering an environment where people are motivated to bring their best, feel valued and can continue to grow. Saying thank you or well done gives us natural highs that help us all to be more buoyant when things are feeling down. It's a way to place our colleagues into their own inner spotlight so they can feel the warmth.

Acknowledging that you have control over what you think, and practicing gratitude, helps you focus on appreciation. This is especially important now one year into COVID, where it is easy for negative thinking to emerge. When we activate a more positive frame of mind, that's where stress decreases and our creativity and drive is released.

My top tips for gratitude:

  1. There are big and small ways to appreciate people - all ways are valuable!
  2. Be the cheerleader for your peers - show off how amazing they are. Imagine the power if all of us turned our attention to gratitude. What a contagious and sustainable source of energy!
  3. If you hear something, say something! So many moments are left floating in space, you can be the one who grabs them out of the air and delivers them to the people that would most benefit from hearing them!
  4. Practice an attitude of gratitude both inside and outside of work. Each night before bed, I finish the day by thinking about one thing I'm grateful for. It sets me up for the next morning to be receptive to more moments I'll be grateful for.
  5. Focus it on the unique contributions and perspectives that our people bring. It is so important that everyone is seen for the unique talents and perspectives they bring. One of the ways that we promote diversity is through diversity of unique talents and perspectives, and as a result help promote an inclusive culture.

Yewande Ifebogun

Very inspiring article, Dan and thanks for sharing. If everyone of us practices these tips, the world will be a much better place.

April 26, 2021

Allyson Lower

Thank you for writing this article Dan; I love the habit of ending the day with a grateful thought -- I am going to try to build this into my program. 

March 31, 2021

sandrine lagloire

Great Article thanks for sharing Dan! 

March 25, 2021

Tridz Banerjee

Our very own Eckhart Tolle of Avanade Canada. 

March 18, 2021

Shawn Deng

Gratitude makes human human. The kindness in people is just wonderful.
It reminds me of how privileged I am, and it inspires me to be a better version of myself. :)

March 17, 2021

Steven Coleman

Thanks to your mom and dad for being such positive role models and demonstrating the importance of showing gratitude to others. Thank you so much for sharing and bringing these wonderful qualities to the Avanade family!

March 17, 2021

Kasia Gaca

This is great! Thanks for sharing your point of view and recommendations. 

March 17, 2021

Srishti Chawla

Great read and very well written Dan! Gratitude is one of the best human expressions and I feel pleased to be lead by not just a great leader in you but a grounded human being who values acknowledgement and appreciation as pillars of our work culture. 

March 17, 2021

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