How Living with Gratitude Grows Great Leaders

by Doug Meyer-Cuno

Living with gratitude isn’t easy. Being a leader who lives with gratitude is even more difficult.  Sometimes, we’re angry or upset because of a personal crisis or an employee’s bad decision. And when we’re in that negative place, we can’t be grateful.  In order to be at our best as leaders, living in gratitude is essential. Why is that? Coming from a place of appreciation inspires your people to perform well. It’s difficult to empower your teams if you don’t do so in the spirit of gratitude.

While we all have our negative moments and find ourselves ungrateful, understanding how to place ourselves back in the center of gratitude is paramount for great leaders.  With this in mind, I’ve used Empowered Wealth’s 4 Levels of Gratitude* as a model and a tool to get back into gratitude.

  1. Respect
    The first step of living in gratitude is common courtesy and manners. The way we greet people with a hello or a smile. How we express thanks with a genuine thank you. We use words such as please, you’re welcome, excuse me, and pardon me. These are generally accepted as social graces and tend to start off the a conversation in a positive environment. If we can’t be respectful of each other, it is challenging to lead in a manner that allows us to empower our teams. My experience as a leader has taught me that you cannot connect, be authentic, or create a relationship unless you have established respect for one another.
  2. Appreciation
    The second level is being appreciative of the things we experience, we own, or the special moments we enjoy. For example, as we age and mature, we tend to be much more appreciative of a gorgeous sunset or sunrise. Why is that? Our experiences tell us to slow down and enjoy those special moments nature has provided. I’m sure all of us as children liked a sunrise or sunset. But as adults, we’ve learned to stop and reflect on their beauty. In fact, many of us will intentionally wake up early to see a sunrise or block out time to experience a sunset and reflect upon the day. We also become more appreciative of our friendships, our jobs, our spouses, and the people we work with daily. The ability to reflect and learn something from these moments is what creates our awareness to be appreciative.  To empower other individuals or teams, it’s essential to be appreciative of their experiences. We all are unique and have ways in which our strengths allow us to achieve the same results utilizing different styles.  Appreciating those differences is motivating for them.
  3. Generosity
    The highest form of gratitude. This means to give back without expecting something in return. When our lives are chaotic or something severely negative occurs, we can eventually find the silver lining and focus on being grateful by living in the present and accepting the negative while concentrating on the positive. Mentoring/coaching others is an example of this form of gratitude. As a leader, you can empower people to reach higher levels of success that perhaps they may not have achieved without your influence.
  4. Not Gratitude
    I know what you’re thinking—what does this have to do with gratitude? While the first three levels of gratitude are “grateful” ways of being, there are consequences for being “ungrateful,” so it’s important to include it in the four levels. You know of leaders who always are negative; no matter what the circumstance, they find something to complain about. They seem to be bitter or angry at something over which you have no influence. Sometimes, when they enter the room, you can feel the group’s level of enthusiasm or positive energy take a dip. These people are seemingly living ungrateful lives. Generally, they can’t motivate their people to willingly follow their lead. Because they can’t stay positive or enjoy the moment of gratitude, it’s much harder for them to inspire their teams to greatness. Are there leaders who live more in this mindset than they should? Of course, there are. Are they effective? Maybe. But they would be much more effective leaders if they lived in gratitude.

When you come from a place of respect, appreciation, and generosity, you will become a more authentic and transparent leader. The key is to intentionally navigate to the mindset of gratitude.

Doug Meyer-Cuno is an entrepreneur, mentor, and ForbesBooks author of The Recipe For Empowered Leadership: 25 Ingredients For Creating Value & Empowering Others. He founded a food ingredients distribution company, Carolina Ingredients, and expanded it into a nationally recognized and award-winning industrial seasoning manufacturer before it was acquired by Mitsubishi in 2019. Since then he has founded Empowered Leadership, which helps entrepreneurs, business owners and CEOs scale their companies by empowering their teams. Meyer-Cuno earned his BA in International Commerce from Furman University and is a graduate of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program.

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