Ready to Incorporate Gratitude Into Your Leadership Strategy?


A handbook for both new and experienced leaders.

If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

Leading With Gratitude - Initiating a Practice of Gratitude

Leading with Gratitude

Whenever I’m feeling “meh”, my default is to look for something to be grateful for.  Before long, I find myself experiencing awe and wonder at the simplest things.  Take your smartphone as an example.  Every question answered with the swipe of a finger! The roof over my head, the cup of coffee I’m drinking.  The opportunities for gratitude are endless.

As it turns out, gratitude isn’t just great for making me feel better, it’s way more powerful as a leadership lever than I had ever imagined. 

This week’s read is Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton 

Ditching Sticks for Carrots

Brought to you by the authors of The Carrot Principle and The Orange Revolution, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton have uncovered the simplest and most basic way to access and engage employees, gratitude.

Co-founders of The Culture Works, a global training company, both authors are experts in workplace culture and leadership.  

I received this book to review and had let it sit for a while.  Little did I know that a health crisis would find me with a lot more extra time to read and this book offered the perfect employee benefit for cash strapped leaders.

After all, gratitude is fred.

When the Going Gets Tough, You Get Grateful

The beginning of the book starts with an inspirational story of Garry Ridge, the CEO of the WD-40 company. During the economic crisis of 2008, he put in a policy of “No lying, no faking, no hiding conversations.”  He committed to not laying off a single person, or giving up a single benefit.  He also instructed managers on how to lead with gratitude by showing sincere appreciation. 

He took the lead, managers followed suit and in 2010, the company reported its best year yet. 

I suppose you can say tough times call for desperate measures,  But the results Ridge experienced in 2010 aren’t the kind of performance most companies were getting at that time. 

In other words, maybe gratitude isn’t something to fall back on when times are tough, maybe it’s more of a leadership lifestyle.

The Survey Says: Showing Gratitude is an Essential Leadership Skill

The authors conducted a 200,000 person study that showed that managers who were more grateful for excellent work led teams with higher business metrics.  This included profitability that was twice that of their peers and customer satisfaction that was 20% higher.  

When you consistently show your employees or team sincere gratitude they feel more positive about their jobs, and are less stressed.  And the results reflect this.  

The Myths that Hold Leaders Back

The book also gets into popular leadership and management myths.  And I have to admit that these surprised me.  Not because they were listed as myths, but rather, because companies continue to lean on these beliefs and promote managers who practice them.

Want to know what they are?

“Fear is the best motivator” and “People get way too much praise these days.”

But here’s the best part, the authors explain that no one believes that they lead with fear and yet their survey found that 30% of managers believe using fear sometimes is effective.

With more and more millennials in the workforce, managers are complaining that they want praise. This is a misnomer.  What millennials are looking for is immediate feedback on the impact they are making. 

How to Implement Gratitude Based Leadership

Initiating a practice of gratitude can be challenging or even come off as inauthentic. 

After all, if you’ve been subscribing to the myth of “fear is good” and “too much praise is bad”, your team will think that you’ve been body snatched and swapped with an alien.

The authors recommend talking with your team and explaining that you realize that it’s time for a change.  It might also help to acknowledge that you’ve had your head down and pushed a punishing schedule to focus on results — and that this had put undue stress on the team. 

In fact, the entire book is focused on the process of how to show gratitude and incorporate it into your leadership style.

Here are a few more;

  • Solicit and act on input

  • Assume positive intent

  • Walk in their shoes 

  • Look for small wins

  • Tailor to the individual

  • Reinforce core values

  • Encourage peer to peer

Watch Out For Your Preconceived Notions    

Perhaps the biggest obstacle in incorporating gratitude as part of your leadership practice is impostor syndrome or feeling inadequate in your own abilities.

It’s unlikely that you’re going to heap praise on others if you are feeling inadequate or weak.  

Nothing could be further from the truth.  

Give yourself a break.  Then practice opening up your own mind about your employees and their abilities.  Don’t let your preconceived notions about yourself and your employees get in the way of a good thing.


Leading with Gratitude is the ideal read during uncertain times.  The CEO stories inside along with helpful tips from the authors will make this a book that you can read, practice and implement in your business as well as your life. 

Qualify for discounts, special offers and more with a Business Prime account from Amazon. You can create a FREE account to get started today.


1 Comment ▼

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

One Reaction
  1. Gratitude is powerful. It can transform your energy and help you attract what you want.