Disgruntled and Gratitude: Leading with the Right Mindset

The November Authentic Leadership Dallas lunch meeting is almost here. We will meet on November 19, 11:45 am to 1:00 pm, at the Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel. Please RSVP on our Meetup page; you can find directions and other details there.

Thanksgiving is approaching quickly and often the focus turns to gratitude. Having a gratitude mindset is essential but what happens when we face disgruntled team members or colleagues? How do we lead grumpy people? When change happens, people can adopt an unhappy stance. When challenges arise, people can take on a negative attitude. Situations like these are reality, and leaders need to navigate whatever bumpy waters come their way.

Leaders face all types of situations as well as set the tone for the organizational culture. The following definition of gratitude by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. is an insightful one:

“Indeed, this cuts to very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing[s] in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.

The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

This sets up our leadership discussion on leading with gratitude and leading with the ungrateful.

To prepare for the meeting, this post outlines the agenda and some material to read (if you have time). You don’t have to read anything to attend our meetings. Just come, participate, listen, and help us all continue to grow as leaders. Also, if you have other articles or thoughts to add in, please leave any comments to this post.

Reading on Disgruntled and Gratitude

Nine Do’s and Don’ts for Dealing with the Disgruntled by Rosabeth Moss Kanter. Key quote: “Don’t give them power. Don’t let their claims occupy disproportionate time and management attention. Have one person manage so that everyone else can continue the real work.”

10 Ways to Deal with an Unhappy Employee by Bill Stronge. Key quote: “When asking questions, try to put yourself in your team members’ shoes. There could be something going on in the office you are not aware of. Or maybe something is happening in their personal life that is spilling over into their job. Either way, you need to really listen to understand what the issues are.”

Leading with an Attitude of Gratitude by Joel Garfinkle. Key quote: “Expressing gratitude is really the art of noticing — noticing what others do and how it affects you. Yes, our co-workers sometimes cause problems, but the vast majority of what our colleagues do helps us and helps the company. By putting more emphasis on leading with an attitude of gratitude, we can build confidence in others, improve productivity, foster innovation and develop positive relationships at work.”

Leadership Practice of Gratitude at Work by Henna Inam. Key quote: “As leaders our behavior has a meaningful impact on setting the culture of the organization. When I was General Manager for our business in Mexico, one simple practice we did to build a culture of gratitude was to give everyone note cards they could hand out to others as often and as freely as they wanted. The note cards said: ‘Gracias por hacer la differencia’. Thank you for making a difference.”

Meeting Agenda

Our meeting is:

  • Forty-five second introduction: What do you want people to remember about you after the meeting? (10 minutes)
  • Question 1: What leadership practices have worked for you in facilitating disgruntled team members? What have you observed and adopted or avoided from other leaders? How do you prevent negative attitudes from spreading to other teams or departments? (25 minutes)
  • Question 2: How can you lead with gratitude so it doesn’t seem fake or just fluff? How have you built gratitude into your leadership practices? What works, what doesn’t? How is gratitude a part of or evident in your organizational culture? (25 minutes)
  • Wrap-up and next meeting. (5 minutes)

Looking forward to our real, leadership conversations!