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Limitless Leaders™ Connection – Building mental fitness through a culture of gratitude

Limitless Leaders Connection Building mental fitness through a culture of gratitude

Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Over the last few months with many leadership teams, we have explored the topic of gratitude and how this is being expressed in the workplace. Call it recognition, praise or appreciation; what stood out is that we need to take the time to show gratitude within and across the teams, we work with.

Many organisations focus on a ‘performance culture' and not a culture built around gratitude. This can affect the level and deepness of gratitude that employees practice. I call this ‘grey gratitude‘, it may not be intentionally stifled but it’s not hitting the mark as part of what makes up the culture.

If you are looking for employees to go beyond the contractual obligation of their roles and build mental fitness, then expressing gratitude should be part of your leadership. Acknowledging the thoughts and efforts of people with gratitude shows that those people matter and this can build a culture around gratitude which I believe is vital.

Research shows that taking the time to develop an attitude of gratitude can:

  • Build a psychological immune system, making us more resilient to stressful situations
  • Accelerate positive emotions
  • Create a greater sense of achievement of goals
  • Fewer sick days and less stress
  • Greater collaboration and connection
  • Higher job satisfaction overall

What gets in the way?

Many times, people feel awkward practising gratitude and may see it as fluffy and esoteric. The leadership team may not be on board and therefore don’t foster openness and space to build this practice into the culture. Another key blocker is people may see gratitude as a weakness and may feel left out if they don't receive gratitude in return. Many simply don’t adopt the mindset. 

We spend one-third of our life at work, that's over 90,000 hours so it makes sense to incorporate the gift of gratitude into your workplace. Click To Tweet

Gratitude can connect people. It can create collaboration and anchor positive behaviour and it’s also one of the collective skills that make up resilience.

Feelings, actions and our mindset flow from the way we look at the world and how we think about the situation – to change our feelings, we can start by thinking about what we are grateful for. Often, we find our feelings scary and confusing, so we keep them at a distance. However, shutting off our feelings not only backfires, but it drains us of the psychological energy that is needed to build resilience. We need our feelings in order to find satisfaction, meaning and pleasure in life, both in and out of the workplace.

Gratitude can maximise happiness in multiple ways, and one reason is that it helps us reframe memories of unpleasant events in a way that decreases their negative emotional impact and lets in optimism. We can let challenges deepen the way in which we are grateful – it can show us not to take things for granted.

Looking back is about learning and looking forward is about progressing. Click To Tweet

Accessing and sustaining positive emotion is key to building resilience in organisations, needed now more than ever. Focusing our attention on how far we have come can provide positive reinforcement and fuel with our thoughts to overcome challenges and setbacks. It’s like looking in the rear-vision mirror of a car – what you pass goes by quickly, but it’s easy to miss a beautiful landmark or a life lesson that you could share. 

Think about how you could flip what I call “Grey Gratitude” in your workplace to a clearer vibrant practice?

We have workshopped this question in a few companies and I’d love to share a few ideas and tips:

Share 1 situation or person you are grateful for.

  • Kick off a meeting/workshop/project review with each person sharing who or what they are grateful for in the workplace
  • An option is to capture these on Yammer/Teams

3 positives to 1 negative

  • For every negative, you or the team discuss, workshop 3 positives 
  • This reinforces the face we often focus on what isn’t working instead of the things we could be grateful for

Create a Gratitude wall-virtually or in the office

  • People can leave notes of appreciation for anyone
  • Name can be shared, or this can be anonymous

Ask a question

  • What capabilities, qualities and skills have got me to where I am today? 
  • Individually of self or share as a team

Be specific

  • When we aren’t specific when expressing gratitude this dilutes the impact and intention
  • Imagine replacing “I’m grateful for that” to ‘I’m grateful for the support you have given the team and I this month”.

It is ideal to have structured forums to share as well as spontaneous recognition and ways to show appreciation. Some subtle ways of sharing gratitude every day could be as simple as sending surprise emails to others expressing appreciation or creating a forum to share internal updates and encourage people to share.

Be mindful not to do ‘gratitude’ in overdrive – this can seem false and dilute the effects of authentically being grateful.

I would love to hear how you are incorporating gratitude in your workplace!

Lead to be limitless…

Signed Reneé



PS: Want to skyrocket your success from working anywhere? We've launched our new online program and you can read more about that here.

Ever wondered what Reneé gets up to when she isn't with working with her clients? She's doing this.

If this article has resonated with you in any way – I’d love to hear your thoughts – get in touch.

Being in service to my clients is why I do what I do and your feedback, insight and any suggestions are always embraced.

Find out where you sit on the Leadership Ladder, your responses are anonymous and the results summarised to help us better understand where our market sits so that we can continue to provide, insights, tools and solutions to assist you to move up to be LIMITLESS, co-creative and stand out.

Renée is a mentor, coach, expert facilitator and keynote speaker, She is the author of ‘Limitless Leadership’ and co-author of ‘Leaders of Influence’.

Follow Renée on Facebook, Instagram, IGTV or Twitter, or subscribe to her blog here or new podcast here.

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Limitless Leaders™ Connection – Curiosity to fuel adaptation, innovation and collaboration – The future of leadership

To lead an organisation and create a culture open to change, innovation and creativity, curiosity is key. The future of leadership requires us now, more than ever, to adapt, innovate and collaborate, and I reckon curiosity deserves some attention.

Curiosity is a skill and also a characteristic – a motivating desire for more information. It’s the engine that drives learning, innovation and achievement. Being curious requires us to ask questions of ourselves, situations and others. This helps us grow and be what I call ‘in flow’.

Ask to know

Know to grow

Grow to be in flow

– Renee Giarrusso

 

Curiosity is a skill and also a characteristic – a motivating desire for more information. Click To Tweet

 

Dr Daniel Berlyne was a pioneer in curiosity research in the ’60s. His work in the field of experimental and exploratory psychology has served as the foundational research for many scientists who have followed. He stated that curiosity is innate to our being, not unlike food and water. 

He also concluded that it is instigated by three key sources:

  • novelty – that which is new or unknown to us
  • ambiguity – that which is confusing to us
  • complexity – partially known to us and where we seek to know more

All these sources of curiosity surround us – it’s up to us to raise our emotional intelligence, be aware of these, and decide on what to do next. 

Four keys to curiosity 

One – Have an open mind

This takes discipline, and the more open you are, the more likely you will be to receive new information and ideas that can help you to continue to be curious.

Avoid closing yourself or others off and stretch out of your safe zone – anything outside of your comfort zone is growth. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and stay present when listening. I ask myself ‘What can I learn from this person?’ – this opens up my mind to receive and not discount the ideas or opinions of others.

Two – Ask questions

Asking questions helps you become a more effective communicator, as well as build stronger relationships and leadership capabilities. Asking questions with intention is a great way to understand, seek information and explore your curiosity in the process. 

Why do we often forget to question ourselves and the things we do and think? 

Whether you are questioning another person, yourself or a situation, asking open questions is key. This is where the answer can’t be yes or no, and it is a great way to elicit information and get the other person talking. After choosing open questions, drill down with closed questions, which can be answered with yes or no.

A key tip to asking open questions is to add ‘tell me about’ to the start of your questions – this will turn them into an open question. 

When we ask curious, open questions, we need to be open to not knowing the answer, and not assume or judge. Our intention should be to focus on learning and understanding more.

Curious questions 

  • What do I/you think of this idea?
  • How could this work?
  • Why do I/you think this idea could work?
  • What could go right and wrong?
  • What would I/you do if there were no limitations and unlimited time and resources?
  • What is a great question I could ask you right now?

Flipping statements into questions

When we think about something, we articulate it in our minds as either a statement or a question. For example, flipping a statement such as ‘What that team did was great’ to ‘I wonder how that team achieved that?’ will change your energy and provoke questioning and conversations. It changes a one-dimensional thought to a two-dimensional question. Take the time to observe the statements you think or write, such as in an email, and flip these into questions.

Three – Listen and be present

Listening is one of the most challenging skills to master – communication isn’t just about what you say; it is 50% speaking and 50% listening. The research found that only 2% of leaders have ever received any training on how to listen, and most people struggle to listen and not just ‘hear’.

As human beings, we aren’t wired to listen, although it is one of the first things we learn in our mother’s womb. We think at more than 400 words a minute and speak at 150, so it’s no wonder our minds wander when we should be listening.

To be truly curious, we need to listen to:

  • ourselves both logically and intuitively
  • the responses of others, without bias or judgement
  • situations that present themselves
  • thoughts, feedback and feelings through all our senses

Four – Be interested

Reframe ‘boring’ situations and people to ‘interesting’. A simple reframe can change your energy, attitude and ability to be curious. We can learn much from others if we have an open mind and question things.

Sometimes the simple tasks and decisions are carried out in autopilot. Often, we become time-poor and miss opportunities.

When the stakes are high, and the pressure is on, it can be difficult for leaders, to pause before acting, take a step back and reflect on why they are doing what they are doing.

Sometimes questioning our actions on the bigger things can be hampered by our inaction on questioning the smaller things.

Take the time to build your curiosity muscle and create the space to make it part of your team and organisational culture.

I’d love to hear what you do to instil curiosity?

Lead to be limitless…

Signed Reneé



PS: Want to skyrocket your success from working anywhere? We've launched our new online program and you can read more about that here.

Ever wondered what Reneé gets up to when she isn't working with her clients? She's doing this.

If this article has resonated with you in any way – I’d love to hear your thoughts – get in touch.

Being in service to my clients is why I do what I do and your feedback, insight and any suggestions are always embraced.

Find out where you sit on the Leadership Ladder, your responses are anonymous and the results summarised to help us better understand where our market sits so that we can continue to provide, insights, tools and solutions to assist you to move up to be LIMITLESS, co-creative and stand out.

Renée is a mentor, coach, expert facilitator and keynote speaker, She is the author of ‘Limitless Leadership’ and co-author of ‘Leaders of Influence’.

Follow Renée on Facebook, Instagram, IGTV or Twitter, or subscribe to her blog here or new podcast here.