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Thought Leaders Unpacked -> The Soul of a Leader #5: Practicing Gratitude

thought-leadersThe pressures of work and leadership are many. The tough economy merely compounds and complicates these concerns.

I believe the leader is responsible for maintaining perspective in the midst of all these pressures. Keeping things in perspective for him or herself, and keeping things in perspective for the team.

While a variety of means are available to the leader, Benefiel reminds us in this week’s chapter of the importance of gratitude as a perspective provider.

The beauty and power of this insight lies in its integrity. Gratitude is good for the soul, good for bringing valuable perspective to a situation, and good for building of trust and collaboration into relationships. Gratitude is correcting, restorative, renewing, and generative.

Of all the gifts a leader can bring to the team, gratitude belongs at the core. No other leadership function can endure without it. Not focus, not direction, not vision, not organization, not team building, not accountability, not confrontation, not planning, not communication… you get the idea.

Being a workplace culture builder myself, I’m partial to Benefiel’s recommendation to build a culture of gratitude. It is when the company begins to move and breathe gratitude that everyone and everything is experienced from an entirely new vantage point. It is when even the most annoying, upset customer is received warmly and thanked for bringing their concern forward that gratitude has worked its way into the marrow of your company’s being.

So what’s the big deal with gratitude? Why so important? Why core? How so deeply connected to everything else?

I believe it has to do with how gratitude shifts my focus off myself and onto God and others in such a way that while still significant, I am no longer the fulcrum of the equation. We live in an all or nothing culture of competence, achievement, and personal fulfillment. Especially in leadership circles, everything seems to stand or fall with the expertise, influence and savvy of the leader.

Talk about pressure!

We need a way to get over ourselves without diminishing ourselves. Gratitude does just that. By articulating specific appreciation to God and others, we step out of the center without stepping out of the circle.

Thus the corrective, the restoration, the renewing and the generation of new possibilities.

We do not operate alone. The well-being of the business does not stand or fall on us alone. We resist the temptation to take all the credit, and we release the pressure of accepting all the blame.

Gratitude. Thank you. I appreciate you.

In what ways might your self-perception be out of proportion with reality? (i.e. too central or too peripheral) For what and to whom would you like to express gratitude more often?

What was your main take-away from this chapter?

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of The Soul of a Leader by Margaret Benefiel. My reflections are my own and are intended to generate conversation, catalyze additional thinking and encourage mutual learning.
If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.


Here's My Thought...


five + = 12