Guest Blogger Sandeep Aujla: The Strength of Gratitude Part 2

How can leaders increase feelings of gratitude in themselves and others?

In my previous blog post, I put forward a case for leaders to cultivate gratitude in themselves and others.  Now, I’d like to share one approach to doing so using the ever so popular competency perspective that we love in human resources.

ImageCompetency perspective constitutes one of the most popular approaches to recruitment, selection, and training in today’s workplace.  Competency is the conglomerate term that refers to knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs). defines gratitude as “a quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.”  However, I want you to reconsider gratitude as a competency that includes knowledge of what you can/should be grateful for, a skill of knowing when and how to thank the other, and the ability to demonstrate genuine gratefulness in words and actions.

I feel that reconsidering gratitude through a competency framework can de-mystify ways to develop it and effectively exercise it for not only one’s benefit but for the greater good.  Of course we can debate that KSAs can be treated interchangeably and if you’re inclined to do so, feel free to rework the framework to fit your needs.  The ultimate goal of this exercise is to establish a concrete approach to develop and harness the strength of gratitude in oneself and others.

What to be grateful for? (Knowledge)

To answer this question, I defer to Ralph Waldo Emerson who encouraged us to

“cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to [us], and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to [our] advancement, [we] should include all things in [our] gratitude.”

But instead of Emerson’s inclusive suggestion to include “all things [that] have contributed to your advancement,” I suggest you pick (at least) one thing per day.  This sparing identification of sources to be grateful for should help relieve the pressure for those that are new to adopting the habit to be grateful.  For others who practice gratitude more frequently, distinguish between things that bring fleeting joy versus those that leave a lasting or even lingering feeling of positivity and contentment; I recommend celebrating the latter feeling and its source.

When to thank? (Skill)

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives”  - John F. Kennedy

You can increase your probability to adopt a new habit, such as giving thanks, by setting specific time to give thanks.  You can choose to either do it in the first hour of work or before going to bed, or at any other time that is meaningful to you.  Ideally, you should thank others as soon as you observe them doing something kind for others or for you.  However, it’s never too late to thank someone for an act of kindness or any of their actions that positively impacted you, even if it were months or years later.

How to genuinely thank the other? (Ability)

This question feels most important because without genuineness your actions despite positive intentions may not appear authentic, disallowing expression of gratitude to positively impact the recipient and you, the giver.  Pondering on the word “genuine” brings children to mind; we don’t expect deceit or ulterior motives when children say thank you.  So, thank others with similar genuineness as children, displaying heart-felt gratitude.  Don’t feel the pressure to glorify their actions; you can thank others for something small as long as it was meaningful to you.  Furthermore, you can thank others in writing, in person, or just in your thoughts; the former two options are most appropriate and rewarding for others and you.  In case you ever suffer self-doubt, remind yourself of Winnie-the-Pooh:

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”  –  A. A. Milne

In conclusion, if you commit to finding things to be grateful for, make the time to show gratitude to the source of that feeling, and express that gratitude sincerely, I believe that you will cultivate the habit of gratitude and reap the benefits of developing this competency.  Furthermore, demonstrating this competency at work should help you engage others by increasing their feelings of being valued.  Also, we can expect that your role modeling as a leader should encourage others to also practice gratitude, thus creating a positive workplace culture of gratefulness; now who wouldn’t want to work in such an environment?

If you have other suggestions for cultivating gratitude please share in the comment section below. Thank you for reading this article and for considering to develop and to leverage gratitude as one of your strengths.

Thank-you Sandeep for sharing your wisdom…you are who I am grateful for today…

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