With all of the recent interest in emotional intelligence and leadership, it is easy to wonder just what the fuss is about. When you break down mindfulness, you discover that it is simply focusing your attention to where you are and what you are doing at this moment. Break it down even further and couple that with this week’s US holiday of Thanksgiving and you discover that one of the elements of emotional intelligence, gratitude, can deepen your ability to lead more effectively.
Gratitude is a “chosen attitude”
With the human tendency to pay more attention to the negative, it can be hard to see positives. However, recent research has made some interesting discoveries about gratitude.
- Better ability to ride out negative events
- Able to help others or access compassion more easily
- Exemplifies emotional maturity
- Helps access mindfulness more easily
- Promotes physical health
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. According to Richard Emmons, researcher and author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, gratitude is both a cognitive and emotional process. Indeed, gratitude doesn’t work unless both are activated. Gratitude gets its power to influence our behavior when we choose to use it.
The intersection with leadership
Recent leadership research keeps coming back to the best leaders being the most emotionally intelligent. Gratitude reinforces the most basic pieces of emotional intelligence by combining both internal awareness of your emotional life with the external awareness of how we interact and experience other people. Appreciation of what is in your life is a way of opening yourself is certainly an aspect of the CEO Mindset. But there is a transformational piece that is a direct link to your leadership.
- Saying thank you to particular people for their performance encourages loyalty and good will
- The positive attitude demonstrates resilience and the ability to tolerate positive and negative events competently
- Helps remove the “white noise” of our lives and work so you can think clearly about how you want to lead and where you want your organization to go
- Keeps you open to listening to positive and negative feedback so you continually learn how to lead better
What will you give thanks for?
See for yourself how gratitude can be transforming. Keep a gratitude journal everyday by writing down three things you are grateful for. They can be anything from thanking someone for telling you how you are doing a lousy job to acknowledging the beautiful sunset you saw on your commute home. Find out how you aren’t as stressed by negative events. Make someone’s day by thanking them for his/her hard work on a specific task. Increased loyalty, positivity and productivity are pretty good outcomes if you are willing to cultivate gratitude into your daily schedule.
How will this add to your leadership?