Gratitude as a way of Leading

Receiving cards and letters of gratitude is always an uplifting experience. I particularly remember my early days as a leader and how I would keep those notes in an envelope. On particularly hard days I would go back to that envelope and refuel by soaking in the words of gratitude once again.  

Expressing gratitude can be a challenging practice, but as leaders it is an important one to engage. Andy Stanley, in the below podcast and outline, speaks to the importance of gratitude and what the result will be.



In the Wake of Leadership by Andy Stanley

Creating a culture of gratitude generates a culture of generosity.


  • Leadership requires us to keep our focus out front and we often forget to pause, look back, and thank those who have contributed to our success.

  • The demands of tomorrow can quickly overshadow the accomplishments of today.

  • Much of the success achieved by leaders is built on the service of others.

  • A culture of gratitude is important because it generates generosity. People are motivated to be more generous with their time and talent when they are recognized and gratitude is expressed.

  • Leaders set the tone for a culture of gratitude.

When expressing gratitude:

o Be specific. The more detail and more specificity that are added to a thank you, the more

impact it will make.
o Be Honest. Don’t say thank you for things for which you are not thankful. People can

sense insincerity.
o Go Public. Public gratitude is powerful. It communicates that the leader is paying attention.

  • Every leader should have a stack of thank-you cards on his or her desk and should take time each

    day to write to someone who needs to be thanked.

  • Look for ways to reach as far down into the organization as possible to say thank you.

  • Failure to express gratitude comes at a cost. Failure to express gratitude is ingratitude.


  1. As a leader, how generous are you with your gratitude? How would you evaluate your organization’s ability to express gratitude?

  2. What would change in your organization if you started each staff meeting by writing thank-you notes? As a leader, what other ways can you think of to express your gratitude?

  3. Who can you thank today whose service has contributed to your success?