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The Heart of the Leader: Using Gratitude as a Strategic Tool

Updated: Nov 20

As we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we are often reminded to spend time in gratitude, so I thought, what might be another way to look at it?  As leaders how can you use gratitude when business is slow, or changing, or the market is down, or customers are choosing not to spend or they spend on things other than what you offer.  How do stay in gratitude with your team, your customer and yourself in those moments? Why is it important?



Acknowledge Efforts and Dedication

During challenging times, express gratitude for the dedication and hard work of team members.  Be specific here.  What are people grappling with? How are they making good decisions considering the difficulties? Acknowledging specifics, even in difficult circumstances, reinforces a sense of purpose and value, and lets the team know “I see you”.

Celebrate Small Wins

Remember that it’s not forever.  In doing so, focus on identifying and celebrating small victories – not only for your team, but also for you! How did you win today? This week? Recognizing and appreciating even the smallest achievements provides a morale boost and reinforces the idea that progress is being made, no matter how incremental.

Be Positive!

Use gratitude to shape the narrative surrounding challenges and emphasize the opportunity for growth, learning, and collective problem-solving. I’m not advocating that you be Polly AnaBy framing challenges as opportunities, leaders instill a sense of optimism and resilience within the team.

Create a Culture of Support

Gratitude can be expressed laterally and from the bottom-up. Leaders can encourage team members to express gratitude to each other for support and collaboration. This builds a culture of mutual appreciation and solidarity, fostering resilience.

Lead with Gratitude

Grateful leaders lead by example. They model resilience and a positive mindset during tough times, demonstrating that challenges are part of the journey, and expressing gratitude becomes a coping mechanism. This behavior encourages the team to follow suit.

Provide Support

Gratitude is also about acknowledging the emotional toll that challenges can take. Leaders express gratitude for the emotional resilience and support demonstrated by team members, creating a supportive and empathetic environment.

Encourage Openness and Communication

Grateful leaders encourage open and honest communication. They express gratitude for team members who share their concerns, ideas, and feedback, without judgement. This fosters a sense of psychological safety, contributing to overall team resilience.

Invest in Professional Development

Leaders express gratitude for the opportunity to invest in the professional development of their team members during challenging times. This can include providing training, resources, or mentorship, reinforcing a commitment to individual and collective growth.

Celebrate Adaptability

Celebrate the adaptability and flexibility demonstrated by the team by recognizing the ability to pivot and adjust strategies during challenging circumstances reinforces a culture of resilience and innovation.

Acknowledge Team Unity

Unity and cohesion of the team during challenging times is key to a winning team. Recognizing the strength that comes from a united front reinforces a collective mindset that can overcome adversity.


Of one thing I am certain in my experience. What you put out into the world is returned to you. This includes hard work, attitude, energy, and gratitude. Gratitude can be a strategic tool during challenging times helping to maintain morale - your's and your teams - and build resilience in the face of adversity.  Give it a try.  Those around you will be grateful, and so will you!

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