I am Grateful in Life & Leadership
In a recent episode of Modern Family, DeDe (Shelley Long) and Manny (Rico Rodriguez) are sitting on the couch talking, when DeDe says, “Thank you for your letters.” To which Manny replies, “It’s a lost art, no one puts pen to paper anymore.” And, in a nutshell, that’s an issue that — Grateful Leadership: Using the Power of Acknowledgement to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results — is trying to resolve, from a business perspective.
Through her book, Judith W. Umlas takes the reader on a journey toward understanding the seven principles of acknowledgement and incorporating a philosophy of grateful leadership into the daily grind. This might sound touchy-feely, but Umlas does a fantastic job of tying the more emotional aspects of leadership back to tangible, measurable business outcomes.
Grateful Leadership is comprehensive professional development guide, chocked full of real examples, situations and an assessment. It also includes poignant profiles of leaders from organizations such as Southwest Airlines, the NYPD, Nokia and one of my favorite places, Whole Foods.
WHAT IS GRATEFUL LEADERSHIP?
Back in the 1960s, a new concept called servant leadership was explored and studied. It’s the notion that people naturally want to serve, that when leaders listen to the needs of their people, individuals perform better. Today, it’s a philosophy adopted by many Fortune 500 companies.
I don’t want to give away the meat and potatoes of the book, but here is the essence of the defining principles. Many people deserve to be appreciated, but few actually are. When you acknowledge people and their contributions, you can: build trust, reduce negative feelings, improve employee engagement, profoundly impact someone’s life, become healthier, and produce positive results. There are many opportunities throughout each day to acknowledge individuals; grateful leaders seize them and act.
WHAT GRATEFUL LEADERS DO DIFFERENTLY
While reading Umlas’ book, I extracted five simple things that grateful leaders do. These leaders:
- Regularly express heartfelt appreciation, and acknowledge the contributions and attributes of individuals or teams.
- Have an open door policy and are accessible to everyone, from receptionist to upper management, and will talk about things other than work.
- Recognize that being in a leadership role is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.
- Understand that sincere acknowledgment improves employee engagement which impacts the bottom line.
- Focus on their people, the “followers,” and strive to help them grow, develop and achieve more.
SHIFT TO A STATE OF GRATITUDE
Most likely, you celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday and gave thanks for family, friends and other blessings bestowed. But the season of thanksgiving can transcend the entire year, not just one day in late November. When I finished Umlas’ book, I immediately grabbed a pen and piece of paper, and wrote a list of seven people that I needed to acknowledge. The book shifts your thinking to a state of gratitude.
I’d like to get in a habit — like many of the grateful leaders profiled in this book — of carving out time each week or month to thoughtfully acknowledge the people around me for the contributions they make. I don’t want to wallow among the thankless any longer! My resolution is to rise and energize amidst the thankful.
FTC Disclosure: As a writer for Blogging4Jobs, I received a free copy of this book. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Article by Shannon Smedstad
Shannon Smedstad spends her days leading HR social media and employment branding at GEICO and has more than 14 years of recruiting experience. In 2013, she was named a Talent Warrior by Glassdoor.com for social recruiting leadership and innovation. Outside of the daily grind, Shannon is a work@home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, traveling and her morning coffee. You can connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. (Opinions are her own and not those of her company.)
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