The Grateful Leader: Guest Author Bob Cooper

The Grateful Leader is thankful for the their team does to achieve success.I hope you had a very nice Thanksgiving holiday. This is the time of the year where we should once again reflect and think about all that we are grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

My hope is that you are grateful for the outstanding team that supports your efforts. I mean really grateful. After all, if it only took the leader’s ability to develop a sound strategy to guarantee success, why would you need anyone else?

In the book “Good to Great” author Jim Collins describes the level 5 leader as one who builds enduring greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. They look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves – accepting full responsibility. These leaders are modest and value each team member for their unique contributions.

When speaking with leaders in many organizations I often ask how they show appreciation for members of their team. The answers are quite varied. In our discussions the message that I look to convey is the following – make sure your staff know how much you value their unique contributions to team and organizational success. If you take your top talent for granted, your competitors may very well end up being the beneficiary. Talent is not to be taken for granted. Talent is not always easy to replace. Great leaders make everyone want to try hard even when the going gets tough. I have seen poor leaders take excellent talent for granted only to see performance drop, turnover escalate, and market share dip.

The following are a few suggestions to show gratitude to your team members:

Treat Each Member as a Unique Individual

Let each staff member know how their contributions benefit the team. You should engage each team member in the process of identifying and understanding the specific activities they are responsible for, and how these impact departmental and organizational performance. You should take the time to understand what each staff member’s professional goals are, and assist team members to learn and grow. You should be a trusted and valued mentor.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

I always think about a meeting I had with a Director of Engineering at a defense contractor many years ago. I asked “How often do you let your engineers know how much you value them?” He said, “They are engineers, they should know how they are doing.” It took a few moments for me to catch my breath. He was dead serious. He had high turnover and low staff satisfaction scores. I said, “All staff need to know how much you value their contributions, regardless of their position or length of service.”

When was the last time you complimented your team members? If I were to ask each of your team members the following question – “Do you feel your boss values you?” – How would they answer? If the answer is no, then you need to communicate more often. You must demonstrate sincerity in every communication.

Say “Thank You”

Let your team members know that you appreciate their efforts, especially when they did something that showed good critical thinking skills. Perhaps they anticipated an internal or external customer need, and took an action to meet the customer’s need before the customer made a request. Give thanks to a great effort, even if the outcome was not exactly what you had expected. You want to express gratitude to individuals who show initiative, and when they make a mistake, coach them for future success. The key is to never take great effort for granted.


You can not fake this. Either you care or you don’t. If a member of your team communicates a personal struggle (e.g. a personal illness, a family illness, or some other personal issue) and your immediate response involves how will we get the work done, you may have a big problem. Your team wants to know you care about them first, and getting the job done second. If you don’t capture their hearts, it’s difficult to capture their minds. Top talent will find a boss who cares. Top talent will find a boss who is sincere. Top talent will not settle for anything less.

High Staff Engagement

The Gallup Organization has conducted extensive research that shows the connection between highly engaged staff and business unit performance. Developing highly engaged staff is not only the right thing to do, it’s good business. Some of the ways you build high engagement includes involving staff in identifying ways to improve their environment, clarifying expectations, giving praise, show that you care about them, encourage their growth and development, value their opinions, and build a culture of trust.

Great leaders are simply great people. They make their fair share of mistakes just like everyone else. However, they develop loyal followers. People want to go the extra mile for bosses who care about them. They very much want to help their boss and the organization win. Motivation comes from within. Great leaders create a motivating environment, one that brings out the best in others.

You have a lot to be grateful for. I ask that you look outside your door, and look for every opportunity to show your team how much they mean to you. If you do, you will always be a winner.

For a complete listing of Bob Cooper’s services, including our books “Huddle Up”, “Leadership Tips to Enhance Staff Satisfaction and Retention”, and “Heart and Soul in the Boardroom” please visit us at or call (845) 639-1741.

Posted in: A Career in Practice Management, Day-to-Day Operations, Leadership

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    I love this article, although it seems very theoretical. I have a question and a reflection. Leaders born or made?. As the Manager in health, I firmly believe in the reflection of the evolution of our life is due to a causal coincidence, I think that the chance for leaders, which cause or producing improvements in our lives

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