In my early 20's I thought the best leaders had vision. These were leaders who could look across the landscape and see the future and they could cast an inspiring vision. Vision is important and it certainly has its place in leadership. In my late 20's I wanted to be knowledgeable, which is some what humorous because I just had to look up how to spell knowledgeable. But I thought many of the leadership challenges I faced were real because I didn't know enough to create a solution. I needed to know more so I could have more answers as a leader. Then came my early 30's and this was the season of becoming a delegator. I WAS working TOO HARD. I looked back at my 20's and judged myself for trying to do everything. There's no I in team as the slogan goes so I began to look for gifts in other people that were more helpful to the team than the limits of my gifts. Now that I'm in my late 30's I've begun to see something in leaders I really admire. It's something I feel I have lacked in the past but it's something I would want every person to see in me because I think it's something the best leaders have in their hearts: Gratefulness
Why would being grateful change the way we lead? For a couple of reasons:
1. Leading is a gift - I hope you see it as such even though there are times it's really hard but leading is a gift to you and to me. Leadership is creation, we get to experience what it's like to go from nothing to something in leadership and we get a front row seat! I want to be grateful because I could be taking no risks in life and could constantly be waiting for someone else to tell me what to do but where's the fun in that?
2. We value people more - Recently, I was hurt in a situation where I had worked really hard to help other people. I thought I had served well instead I got the message I hadn't measured up and was even seen as an obstacle to growth. You better believe I didn't feel valued and I wasn't going to invest any more energy into this situation. If we don't value people they will rarely value what they've done. A grateful heart will help us as leaders see people as assets and partners instead of chess pieces and obstacles.
3. We tell better stories - Hope is a critical to the story we tell. Leadership is about hoping for something better. When we have a heart filled with gratefulness we are more likely to make hope a central character in the story we tell. When we lack gratefulness we tell stories about the sky falling and everyone will die in the end. Who wants to be a part of that? But if we focus on being grateful for opportunities and people we will tell the story of what we are doing in a different way and hope will be at the center. Everyone wants to have hope in their story.
How would your leadership be different if every night before you fell asleep you laid your head down and thought about everything you're grateful for? How would people respond to your leadership if you frequently expressed you were grateful for them? How would you tell a story differently if you were grateful to be with your team trying to create a new situation? What if we were as truthful in gratefulness as we were truthful in negative thoughts? Stop right now and spend two minutes being grateful and see how it changes your day!