Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

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Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

by Sylva Leduc, MEd, MPEC, BCC.

With the U.S. Thanksgiving taking place this week, it’s only natural to take time to ask ourselves what we are most grateful for at home and at work. Yet, this once-a-year inquiry is simply not enough to cultivate an attitude of gratitude!

When I coach an emerging leader or a seasoned executive, one of the prompter questions I ask at the beginning of each coaching session is “What are you most grateful for this week?”  As a highly analytical person, the first time I heard this question more than a decade ago, I thought it didn’t belong in my coaching tool belt. Why? Because it seemed less than business-like. Then I stopped to analyze my analysis and had to laugh.

If the question was such a pattern interrupter, then it is a highly effective coaching question. I realized the question is from the field of psychology called “Appreciative Inquiry” or “Positive Psychology,” both of which are instrumental in helping people break out of the pattern of analyzing what can be better. Questions like this help us reflect upon what is working well and what we appreciate.

So how does this tie into coaching, and how can you use this mode of questioning for yourself or with the people you lead?  By recognizing and appreciating them!

Thank You

Research shows that employees feel they are not recognized or appreciated for the work they do. Too often, all they hear about is what they’ve done wrong or have not completed according to a set of unrealistic standards.

According to Gallup's most recent research (Oct. 2013), only 13% of people are engaged in their work and love their job. A full 63% are disengaged, and 24% are very disengaged. That translates into employees not working to their full potential: people who might even be looking for another job.

Before saying “good riddance,” think about how their leader or manager could positively impact their contribution, by simply acknowledging the work they do. People who feel appreciated take greater pride in the work they do.

Even a simple "Thank You" can lead to more engaged employees.  And the Employee-Customer Value Chain has proven that happier employees mean happier customers.

Coaching Tips:

  1. At the beginning of each meeting with your team, take a few minutes to talk about what it going well before launching into a dissection of what is not going well.
  2. Recognize each person for their contribution. Just remember that some of your more introverted employees may be more comfortable with private acknowledgement.
  3. Finally, set aside 20 minutes each week to ask yourself, “What am I grateful for this week?” and write down at least 3 items.

85Sylva Leduc is a Leadership Strategist, executive coach, seasoned facilitator, speaker and published author. She has twice received the ICF's Prism Award for her Executive Coaching. Sylva’s coaching certification is from the College of Executive Coaching, where she is also a faculty member, teaches a variety of courses, and mentors new coaches.

Her company, Sage Leadership Strategies, focuses on executive coaching, 360 feedback, onboarding, developing emerging leaders, team programs, retreat facilitation and strategic planning.

Sylva is President of the ICF Phoenix Chapter for 2013.

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