Most people think of leadership as character traits such as being strong, confident, honest, passionate, persuasive, and trustworthy. Grit is a trait that is rarely mentioned. It’s not exactly leader-like to hear the word “gratitude”. Gratitude? It’s great, but it’s not essential for leaders. Why gratitude? Why would it be included in a list of leadership tools, specifically?
The Power of Gratitude
Research is expanding to show the remarkable impact gratitude has on every aspect of our lives.
Two researchers from the University of California, Davis published the results of their research in Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology (Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 56-69). Drs. Crumpler and Emmons gathered evidence from a variety sources.
Here are some of the most important findings.
Gratitude is a virtue that almost all major religions promote.
In psychological theory and research, it has been shown that gratitude can lead to personal improvement.
Empirical research has shown that gratitude is linked to overall well-being and achieving one’s goals.
Their conclusion was easy:
“Gratitude…is a source of human strength in enhancing ones personal and relational well being.” Jo-Ann Tsang and Michael McCullough wrote that gratitude is the parent of virtues in their essay in The Psychology of Gratitude. Gratitude not just elicits behavior from the person expressing it but also elicits a response from the person receiving it.
The Department of Psychology at Northeastern University also conducted a study on gratitude. Bartlett & DeSteno presented study data in their Psychological Science article. Their findings showed that gratitude drives helping behavior, increases assistance given to strangers, and builds connections. It’s a simple emotion.
Another study suggests that gratitude is stronger than most people realize. It’s more than being grateful. The Psychological Bulletin published a groundbreaking article in 2001 titled “Is gratitude an moral affect?” It stated that gratitude is not just about being thankful. Gratitude is expressed in virtues.
Emmons and McCullough also found the same results. They conducted three studies with a variety groups and found that the gratitude-outlook group had a higher well-being.
Grit isn’t a feeling that we can turn on or off. It is a whole approach to life that requires intentionality and thoroughgoing internal change.
Scientific research shows that gratitude can make a difference in our lives and improve our well-being.
However, experience should prove the opposite. Is it any coincidence Thanksgiving is associated with higher levels of happiness While some may spout a bah-humbug on BlackFriday, it is not Thanksgiving!
Popular articles have benefited from the scholarly research. Forbes author, “Feeling grateful could make you more successful,” outlined the reasons.
To be grateful is being emotionally healthy.
These are the obvious lessons for leadership from this mountain of research.
Leadership: Gratitude
Grit is a powerful behavior that can transform one’s leadership. Gratitude requires a response. The response is always positive.
Leaders who are grateful to their employees gain respect.
Simple acts of gratitude can lead to other behaviors. Leaders who take the time to thank their employees in a thoughtful way can increase their happiness.