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Living as a grateful leader

By Nancy Hegland

In the past few months, I’ve had many reasons to be grateful for my family, friends and colleagues. We have had a lot happening at work, and this fall there has been a need for many people to add tasks to their lists that weren’t in their plans of work, or even on their radar. But there were things that needed to be done, and I had to choose which people needed to take on additional work. Every single person that I called to ask if they could pick up more work responded by saying “yes.” I am so grateful for their willingness, and hopefully I expressed it to them at the time, and continue to show appreciation each and every day.

It’s easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and just keep things moving, yet it is important to express gratitude during the entire year. We tend to be good at expressing our thankfulness this time of the year, but we should make it part of our everyday lives.

"The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness" - Dalai Lama

In a recent article, motivational speaker Jones Loflin shared strategies to improve your attitude and behaviors about gratitude all year long.

Schedule gratitude time

This takes practice, just like anything new that you take on. Consider investing five minutes each morning to make a gratitude list from the previous day. It may be a drawing or words - however you do it, it can help you as you start a new day.

Speak gratitude language

Once this starts to be a habit, it is important to choose how to express gratitude. In the book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Chapman and White cite five ways that we like to be appreciated that include: Words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts, and physical touch.


Do people really listen to each other? So many times there is so much happening or people are trying to do multiple tasks. They don’t hear the message as it was intended. Listen with your head and heart.

Accept gratitude from your team

It can be hard to accept gratitude from others. But it’s so important to listen and say thank you. It will be appreciated.

Ask “How can I help?”

Many people ask how they can help, but may not really follow through. By asking “How can I help?” you are asking them what they need and you are more likely to hear what others need.

In the next few weeks, consider how to implement one or more of these strategies into your life. It will be an opportunity for you to be a grateful leader.

-- Nancy Hegland, Extension program leader

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