[May 27, 2021] We often learn from the writers of the past, those who could help us understand ourselves better – as leaders – and who draw attention to the most useful of virtues. One person in antiquity that we look to today is Marcus Tullius Cicero. He famously wrote that ‘Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others.’
Yesterday, at a Pre-Memorial Day Ceremony conducted by the Veterans’ Club, I spoke about the many men and women who have done so much for us and are now no longer with us. Those veterans, who have died, put their lives on the line for freedom and America.
The thankfulness of those in attendance was overwhelming. Our ceremony was emotionally moving, as we ensured our veterans are never forgotten. It is the willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country that has earned them our lasting gratitude.
When people think of leadership, they think of things like honesty, passion, confidence, etc. One characteristic that rarely makes the list is gratitude. When we hear about “gratitude,” it does not sound like leadership. But is it essential for a leader? Why would it make it on a list of leader traits?
There is a large body of evidence in social science literature that leader gratitude produces personal improvement and reflects well on organizations where that leader is involved. Gratitude elicits behavior in the person expressing it and prompts a response in the person receiving it.
Gratitude can change our lives and make us more productive and satisfied with ourselves and others. It can make us feel more successful. To be grateful is to be emotionally healthy.1
Gratitude can further transform our leadership. The simple act of expressing gratitude produces positive behavior in others. For example, when a leader takes the time to get to know those who work for the leader, the leader gains respect and provides motivation.
Gratitude is an overlooked leader quality. Possessing it is a no-lose trait.