Leaders Lead Thanks

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

I’ve had a fabulous few days with family including my amazing one year old niece.  She is just so much fun!

As I’ve reflected on Thanksgiving this year, I’m reminded of the importance of how we as leaders create a culture of thanksgiving.

Leaders lead others towards an attitude of thankfulness. 

It’s another difficult tensions that many leaders face.  In our drive and intentionality towards progress, it’s easy to gloss over moments to be thankful.  We are naturally wired to see what is yet to come and subconsciously become impatient with the idea of slowing down enough to celebrate and say thanks.

This tension doesn’t change in good times or bad.  If you’re in a thriving season, you are afraid to pause to give thanks for fear you’ll lose momentum.  If you’re in a bad season, you don’t feel like you have time to give thanks because you’re working so diligently to turn things around.

I was fascinated by a post that one of my former bosses wrote about how Abraham Lincoln created the national holiday of Thanksgiving during the middle of the Civil War.  In a time where no one likely felt thankful for their circumstances, President Lincoln understood the importance of leading others towards finding a way to be thankful.

Darlene had this to say about why President Lincoln may have instituted this National Holiday during such a terrible time:

“Yet I think he did it for this reason.  In the most difficult and divisive of times focusing on what we have to be thankful for completely changes our life view.  Not only does it make us remember the good things, the good times, it offers us hope.  Hope for today and hope for tomorrow.”

Whether you are in a good season or a tough season of leadership, how can you model a heart of thanksgiving?

Here are a couple of simple things that you could do:

  1. Start every day by thanking one of your staff for doing a great job the day before.  It could be a quick email or even better in a hand written note.  It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but your kind, encouraging words will mean the world to them and you’ll be instilling a grateful attitude in your heart and theirs.  (Joel Manby talks about this in his book Love Works)
  2. In your staff meeting, add a time where you and your staff take a few minutes to talk about what you’re thankful for personally or professionally.  This may be a little awkward at first, but lead through it.  When your staff realize you’re serious, they’ll begin to relax and find value in it.
  3. Several times a year, create opportunities to more deliberately thank your core team.  Following major events, on their birthdays, at the holidays and in their performance reviews, make sure you are giving them specific feedback on how you’re thankful for them.

What are you doing to create a culture of thanksgiving with your team? 

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