Gratitude in Leaders


The holidays are over and we are already halfway through January. Often, we think of gratitude in the fall, this is when our hearts and minds gear up to thanksgiving about the many things throughout the year that we are grateful for. In past blog posts, we have discussed the need to increase words of affirmation in the workplace and the benefits that it brings to employee morale and work culture.

Gary Chapman is the author of the 5 Love Languages; words of affirmation is one of the languages and are needed just as much in the workplace as they are needed with your partner. There was a survey conducted where the majority of people asked said that giving thanks to a colleague makes them happier and more fulfilled and a shocking 60% of the respondents said they never express gratitude at work. Why are we stingy in giving gratitude in the workplace? Is it because for the most part, we have created a culture of the higher you climb the corporate ladder the more successful you are? The reality is that the climb to the top is never achieved alone. We make the climb with the assistance of mentors and others who believe in us. The people who encourage us and help us achieve our best and most importantly believe in ourselves.

I read an article that Americans are less likely to express gratitude at work than anywhere else. The article continued to outline why gratitude makes leaders more effective and improves workplace culture and productivity. Gratitude is often misconstrued as a sign of weakness, first, we need to change our mindset and see gratitude in the workplace and our personal lives as a sign of strength. When people feel appreciated it leads to stronger organizations.

Benefits of leaders showing gratitude in the workplace:

  • Increases productivity
    • When leaders expressing gratitude, it energizes and motivates not only the receiver but the giver as well.
    • Research shows that there are less stress and fewer health complaints and fewer sick days when people feel appreciated in the workplace.
  • Grateful leaders are humble Leaders
    • One psychologist says that being thankful improves self-control and decision making. Humility at its root is less focused on self and more on others.
    • Cultivating the ability to see the strengths and values of others
  • Grateful leaders have a growth mindset
    • Grateful leaders have a self-improvement mindset. They open to feedback that inspires team members to be better. The best leaders see themselves as continually evolving work-in-progress.

For some people expressing thanks to colleagues might feel awkward. The more you do it the easier it becomes. I wrote a handwritten card and left on an employee’s desk before they came into work for the day. Imagine my surprise when that card was still on their desk weeks later where they could see it every day. We truly have no idea how much a heartfelt kind word of appreciation and showing gratitude to others does to the receivers’ self-esteem. Choose to see good… choose to see the good in others, see good in your team members. Being authentic in gratitude is getting to know the employee and team members on a personal level. At my mother’s funeral I was surprised and deeply touched funeral director publicly announced who the bouquets came from. I had no idea that my board sent flowers and the thoughtfulness of the act expressed more the words of condolences could say.

Make it a daily exercise to see the good in others and express gratitude.  It can be handwritten notes, a thoughtful word expressing and recognizing the hard work or many hours an employee put into a project. Bring in coffee or some fun treat. In the video below caution is given that one of the keys to not getting stuck in the cycle of entitlement gratitude is to mix it up, do not have regular donut Friday etc.

Each and everyone one of us are successful in our personal lives and our jobs because there have been people who behind us. These are the mentors, the cheerleaders and those who have encouraged and taught you. It doesn’t take a large IQ to be a good leader it takes a big heart. Authentic appreciation to other team members and from leaders inspires the team and helps build unity.

Gratitude in the workplace will make your business more profitable, your employees will be more engaged to give their best to the success of the team. Make it a goal for this year, be authentic, be creative and have fun!

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director


  • Beheshti, N. (2019, November 18). Research Reveals 3 Reasons Why Gratitude Is An Important Leadership Quality. Retrieved from
  • Newman, K. M. (2017, September 6). How Gratitude Can Transform Your Workplace. Retrieved from
  • The Power of Gratitude in the Workplace. (2019, September 4). Retrieved from