We all know people with good health, money, and options about how and with whom they spend their time, and yet they are not happy. And we all also know happy people who seem to have very little.
In his TED talk, David Steindl-Rast explains that it is gratefulness that makes us happy. He explains that those people who see each moment as an opportunity are the happiest among us. The gift in good times and in bad is the opportunity we are given to do something, to express ourselves through our choice of action. The right action, most of the time, is to enjoy the moment, to stop and smell the roses rather than just rush along. Other times, the gift is the opportunity to react in a positive way and inspire positive actions and reactions. But always, opportunity is the gift for which we need to be grateful.
I am grateful each day for the great work I see happening around me on the teams I lead. When I see things go right, I try hard to enjoy the moment, to revel in the good feeling, and to pass on my gratitude to those involved. When things go wrong, I try to be grateful for the opportunity to take positive action, and to look at where I went wrong in delegating work and communicating expectations. This is how a grateful leader acts.
To be an ungrateful leader is to miss the opportunity to celebrate success, to take success for granted, and/or attribute the success to ourselves. When things go wrong, an ungrateful leader misses the opportunity to look at where they messed up and consider what they could do to improve. Instead, an ungrateful leader passes the buck.
Everyone would rather work for a grateful leader. In my experience, it is pretty hard to be a grateful leader without being a grateful person in general. And since gratefulness is the key to happiness, a successful leader must live a grateful life.