Gratitude: an Overlooked Leader Quality

[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.




Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

13 thoughts on “Gratitude: an Overlooked Leader Quality

  1. Shawn C. Stolarz

    I have to say that I really do agree with Gen. Satterfield that ‘gratitude’ is a grossly overlooked (and devalued) leader trait. Without it, people won’t like you. I’ve seen this occur in many of my bosses over the years at work. They are smart and efficient but lack the simple character to thank folks for a job well done. Demotivates me.

  2. Yusaf from Texas

    Hi everyone, BTW, in a few days will be Memorial Day in the U.S. Let’s celebrate it in style. I’ll be going to a local parade, speeches, and have a BBQ. Looks like our weather here in Texas will be hot but that is part of the tradition.

    1. Rev. Michael Cain

      Have a fun day. THe main thing to do, IMO, is to be with your family and give thanks to our veterans.

  3. Tracey Brockman

    Great comments in the forum so far this morning (on the West coast of the USA). I come here daily for a simple dose of leadership and get a life’s lesson as well. Ha Ha. Have a great week everyone.

  4. Stacey Borden

    Simply saying “thanks” goes a long way. My mother taught me to say please and thank you. It pays off. Too many kids today (and young adults) simply don’t possess those skills or positive attitudes. Many think everyone “owes” them something and act in ways that is not conducive to a smoothly operating organization.

    1. Lady Hawk

      Yes, correct Stacey. I see a ‘attitude’ in mostly women. I hate to say it, but I do. They expect things to be handed to them and not have to work for it. They don’t earn their way, they expect others simply to promote them and give them respect, even when not earned or deserved.

      1. Janna Faulkner

        I’ve seen this as well. Shows what a progressive attitude will do for you. Just have a bit of gratitude.

        1. JT Patterson

          Good point, Wilson. Great to see you back in the forums here. Gen. Satterfield has surely given us an opportunity to get exposure to new ideas and to set the stage for helping solve problems like the one Stacey and Lady H. have highlighted.

          1. Wilson Cox

            Thanks JT. All is well on the homefront. Just been busy at work.

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