Sunday, November 4, 2007

Building Community: Thank you, as a way of leading.

Gratitude is an easy and remarkably powerful step in building the type of community that is essential for successful teams. As I have written before, "Building community is hard. However, it is easy to start quietly and simply with thanks and smiles.

The power of gratitude was twice validated for me this past week.

First, I'd invite everyone to read the wonderful work of Rosa Say. I have employed Rosa's insight several times in the past including, 12 Rules for Leadership and It's All About Learning.

This week, her Managing with Aloha Coaching blog introduced me to the concept of "mahalo" which means thankful living. The most striking suggestion for a quiet leader is,

Say “thank you” often; speak of your appreciation and it will soften the tone of your voice, giving it richness, humility and fullness.

My second validation on the power of gratitude occurred this week during a family member's hospital stay. Nurses and care givers in any health care setting are asked to do a lot. Their role in recovery is huge and the responsibility ranges from comfort to advocacy, from medicine to management.

I had many opportunities this past week to look a nurse or care giver directly in the eye and say "thank you."

No two response were the same, but the power of the phrase was clear. In one case, my perception was that amidst the pain, groaning, expectations, and entitlement, gratitude wasn't expressed very often. In another case, the response led to a "I love nursing" conversation. In a third case the response suggested the partnership between patient and nurse. The responses, although varied, will forever etch the power of gratitude in my mind.

My suggestion to leaders; leverage this wonderful power. Look at your team members or coworkers directly in the eye and say thank you. I believe you'll instantly realize the power of gratitude.

Thanks for reading. Please lead quietly.

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