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Why Gratitude is Still Important at the Top

Celine Floyd - Director of Leadership Assessment

We know that as you progress in your career the complexity, ambiguity and autonomy increases. And typically verbal appreciation, the ability to clearly track success and offerings of gratitude decreases. And rightly so. Often we are suitably rewarded and recognised in other ways. But there’s more to the true old adage of ‘its lonely at the top’. It’s also tough.

Especially now. In a landscape of so much change; so much uncertainty. Whilst they may at times seem unapproachable, powerful or distant, leaders are after all just like the rest of us. We know the impact positive appreciation and gratitude has on employee morale, engagement, performance and retention. We know a ‘well done’ and a ‘thank you’ are cherished by new graduates; and empower new managers. Why then do we feel the need to be more critical of colleagues, the more senior they become. Yes, they carry great responsibility, but why do we fear that giving compliments will distract them, or make them complacent?

We see this even in the leaders themselves. Give a leader the output of their executive assessment. They will ignore the reams of positive narrative and hone straight into the weaknesses. It is human nature. Yet we know too that personal growth is exponentially greater if we focus on better leveraging our strengths, instead of obsessing over natural limitations.

Strengths, and their roots in positive psychology, have traditionally had their place in supporting early organisational talent. But it’s time for a seismic rethink. That warm glow when you feel good about yourself? It energises you. It inspires you. It makes you feel ambitious, and capable. Leaders deserve that too. It’s time to acknowledge the role of strengths at the executive level. Not pink and fluffy. Not naïve to business reality. But integral to the very fabric and longevity of our leaders and therefore all our people.

A pat on the back, a thank you and a well done. When you’re in that lonely and tough spot, at the top, they’ll make you feel better, and want to do even better still. Well, really, what more could we ask for……?

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