We’ve all come across them. Those leaders who people naturally gravitate toward. Though it seems counterintuitive, the magnetic effect these leaders have on people is not because of how people feel about the leader. It’s because of how the leader makes people feel about themselves.

These leaders have mastered two basic facts about people. Fact 1: Every person matters. Fact 2: Every person wants to feel valued.

As Thanksgiving approaches, this is an excellent time to review the skills necessary to express meaningful gratitude to your team. Here are three skills that will yield the highest return:

1. Write a Note. Do not. I repeat. Do not mistake a thank you email for the real thing. Handwritten thank you notes are about relationships. Emails are about transactions. When you take a little extra time to write a personal message to team members to acknowledge your gratitude, you are also acknowledging that they are more than just a tool. They are human beings who matter and are valued. If your note writing skills are rusty, here’s a quick primer to get you started.

2. Make It a Habit. When it comes to business, we can fall into the trap of not seeing people who come in, get the job done, and don’t require constant attention. We take these employees for granted and just assume they don’t need a show of gratitude. To turn your attention to those who don’t ask for it, take a few minutes each morning to make a list of three team members you appreciate and why. Over time, you’ll begin to cultivate of habit of putting yourself in a gratitude mindset.

3. Give People Sincere Appreciation. People who don’t feel appreciated are often the first to burn out or jump ship. It only takes a minute to recognize a team member for making a positive contribution. But, doing it right requires more than the occasional “Attagirl!” Give timely and specific praise to show your team members how you value their contribution. Here’s a quick demo to show you how.

One final secret to mastering leadership gratitude – you can’t fake it. Leaders who genuinely care about their team members will invest the time to help each one feel valued. Make it a habit to sincerely recognize their efforts. Every day is an opportunity to help people see the best in themselves and feel like a valued contributor to the team.

Question: Have you had a leader who gave you a handwritten note of thanks? What did you learn from that experience? 


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