Something I’ve been working on in my growth as a leader is to show appreciation for my team. It’s not that I don’t appreciate them; I’m just not good at it, and I don’t always remember to mention it. And I imagine you feel this too. When you’re busy completing task lists, traveling, and responding to emails, stopping to acknowledge and thank people can fall by the wayside.

The reason why I see this as an area of growth for me as a leader is because of the incredible power a “Thank you” can have.

In a Harvard Health article, the authors noted: “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Having positive emotions, dealing with adversity, and building strong relationships are all things every leader should want for their team members, myself included.

Now, we’ve all had someone say “Thank you” or share appreciation where it felt fake or forced. That’s not what I’m suggesting here.

You must come into saying “Thank you,” whether to a donor, team member, partner, spouse, etc., from a place of authenticity. It has to be genuine. Here are some other things that will make your “Thank you” impactful:

  1. Specificity –

    Saying “Thank you for your hard work.” is nice, but not as impactful because it lacks specifics. Instead, try, “Thank you for putting in the time to create year-end plans for some of your key donors. I can see that you put a lot of thought into how to connect with them in a meaningful way and I appreciate the care you put into your plan.” See how that feels different to hear?

  2. Take advantage of unexpected moments –

    It obviously feels great to be thanked when we accomplish a big project or achieve something significant. But it can be especially impactful to be thanked in unexpected ways. Here are some examples: “Thank you for ending our meeting short today. I really appreciated it.” or “Thank you for helping out today when we needed extra people to test our new webinar platform.” Try to identify the small things and make note of them in the moment.

  3. Consistency –

    Once you get in a habit of appreciation, you’ll do it more regularly, but you have to work to create consistency at first. This is something I really need to work on. Find creative ways to be more consistent. You could even add it to your calendar or task list, or leave a note on your desk. Something to remind you to take a moment to appreciate and thank someone on your team.

Whether you’re thinking about thanking donors, colleagues, or even friends and family, embracing the impact of a “Thank you” can be transformative for your relationships. As we continue in a season of busyness, don’t forget to take time for gratitude too.

I’ll be working on this with you!