As we grow in leadership ability, we experience more success. That’s obvious, but what’s not so obvious is we also tend to grow away from the core values that brought us success – listening, counting on others, staying grounded, and extending gratitude to each person who contributes to our success.
If you find followers growing restless or even combative, reassess your gratitude skills. Trade ego for appreciation, acknowledge feedback, and give (and take) credit where it’s due.
Time for an Ego Check
Yes, you are the boss. Your word is final. You built the company or led the department or managed the big project. You overcame obstacles and took risks and here you are: the leader.
Along the way to success, did you become arrogant? Are you so attached to getting your own way you forget other people depend on you? Checking your ego doesn’t mean you let other egos take over and shove you out of the way; acknowledge your own accomplishments and look outside yourself to see what others have brought along.
Appreciation can be expressed simply with a pat on the back or more elaborately with a huge year-end bonus. When you give appreciation you get it back in the same measure, so your ego gets a pat on the back, too. Public appreciation is best, so speak and act your gratitude.
Stop, Look and Listen
You’ve heard over and over in leadership training that you must ask questions and get feedback. As the leader, you can’t always do everything other people suggest – but, you can take the time to listen to feedback and then explain why you do things your way.
This simple act of stepping back to listen does mean a lot to your followers. When they feel heard, they continue to add input and care about the organization. Discussions don’t need to be endless or result in hurt feelings; each person approaches challenges from a unique perspective, and you could lose sight of what’s in front of you if you’re always scanning the horizon.
Ask for feedback and acknowledge what you hear. Truly consider input and don’t make decisions alone. Stay in touch with all levels of your organization and you’ll never hear, “Our leader doesn’t listen to us anymore.”
Give and Take Credit Where It’s Due
Don’t you hate it when someone takes credit for your work? So do other people when you take credit for their work. This is an easy trap for leaders to fall into because, after all, you’re ultimately responsible for what happens in the business.
A simple way to give credit where it’s due is to ask contributors to acknowledge themselves openly. Celebrating each contribution out loud cements gratitude into the people and activities that create success. You also get a chance to take credit for your part and to see yourself in context.
Gratitude is more than saying thank you – it extends down into the very culture of an organization, especially when it comes from the top. Gratitude is a state of being, an internal focus that welcomes others into the warmth of good feeling. When leaders live in gratitude, others want to give more, do more, and be more to match this state of grace.
Hassan Bawab is the founder and CEO of Magic Logix, a Dallas-based agency specializing in customized marketing automation solutions. He is the author of “How to Work with a Digital Marketing Agency,” and has written numerous articles on automation technologies. Twitter: @HassanBawab