How leaders and employees can show gratitude this Holiday Season

How leaders and employees can show gratitude this Holiday Season

Michael Timms, Founder of Avail Leadership

Michael Timms believes that everyone has the right to be inspired and uplifted by their leaders at work. As principal of Avail Leadership, Michael shows executives how to create a people-first culture and build a pipeline of leadership talent. He also provides leadership training and is a professional speaker.

Michael is the author of the book Succession Planning That Works, which has received critical acclaim as “an invaluable guide for identifying, and taking advantage of, talent within organizations.” Leadership guru, Marshall Goldsmith, called his new book, How Leaders Can Inspire Accountability, the ultimate guide for embracing accountability as a leader.

Prior to forming his own consultancy, Michael was a consultant with Deloitte and an HR leader in the construction and manufacturing industries.

When Michael is not helping leaders improve their game, he enjoys spending time with his family and going on challenging outdoor adventures in remote wilderness locations.


What are some ways for leaders to demonstrate gratitude and accountability to their employees this holiday season?

Accountability is taking ownership of results and working to improve future results. Managers who regularly express gratitude make it easier for employees to get the right results more often. Here’s why.

  • Behavior That Gets Praised Gets Repeated. We are all addicted to the chemical dopamine which is released in our brain when we are thanked and praised. It feels so good that it drives us to continue doing whatever will give us our next dopamine hit. Managers who want to improve employee performance recognize good behavior whenever they see it and express their appreciation.
  • Targeted Gratitude Focuses Employees on the Right Results. Effective leaders help employees become more accountable by aligning their gratitude with achieving desired results. For instance, instead of saying “Thank you for your work on the ABC proposal.”, leaders who drive accountability say “I noticed that you stayed late the other night to get the proposal submitted to our client on time. Thank you for enhancing our reputation as a company that meets its deadlines.”
  • Scheduled Gratitude Drives Accountability. Effective leaders hold regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings with each of their reports (via video conference for remote employees) to review assignments and ask their employees what they need to be successful. This creates a follow up mechanism to make sure no balls are dropped and provides a perfect opportunity to acknowledge the positive things employees did the previous week and thank them for it.
  • Gratitude Is A Consequence. Leaders who create a culture of accountability help employees feel the impact of success and failure by providing consequences for effort and results. Expressing gratitude is a positive consequences that is free and is a more powerful motivating force than monetary incentives.

What are some ways for leaders to demonstrate gratitude and accountability to their employees this holiday season?

Most business leaders instinctively focus on trying to get their employees to be more accountable. However, the most powerful way leaders can create a culture of accountability is by becoming the supreme model of accountability for their organization. Nobody will demonstrate accountability to a higher degree than their leader, and most leaders can set a much higher standard, they just don’t realize it.

Demonstrating personal accountability can be boiled down to three simple habits:

  1. Don’t Blame. Blame kills accountability. When we discover a problem, we are all naturally wired to blame the people closest to the problem. Unfortunately, blaming people for problems leads to predictable outcomes: blamed people stop taking the initiative, hide mistakes, and attempt to deflect blame onto other people. No one will take accountability if they think they will be blamed for doing so.
  • Look in the Mirror. Acknowledge your part in the problem. Few problems are 100 percent caused by one person. Most problems are caused by several factors, including flawed processes and the leader’s past behavior. Accountable leaders identify and admit how they contribute to problems to make it safe for others to do the same and to discover insights that will lead to more sustainable solutions.
  • Engineer the Solution. Fix processes, not people. Our brains are hardwired to assume that most problems are caused by other people and to ignore the systems and work environment that enabled the mistake to happen. Weak leaders ask “Who’s at fault?” Accountable leaders ask, “Where did the process break down?”

By admitting how they contributed to the problem and investigating how the organization’s systems allowed the problem to happen, leaders obtain the moral authority to ask others how they may have contributed to the problem.


What are some ways for leaders to demonstrate gratitude and accountability to their employees this holiday season?

Accountable leadership is the result of behaviors, not personality traits, and some leadership behaviors have a greater positive impact on people and results than others.

The best organizations identify the leadership behaviors that consistently lead to successful outcomes and a) make those behaviors the promotion criteria, and b) provide managers with 360-degree feedback based on those high-impact leadership behaviors to encourage them to develop the behaviors that matter most.


What are some Simple Steps leaders can take to Ensure Effective Time Management at Work?

Getting substantially better results at work can be as simple as putting the right things in the calendar. This may seem like common sense, but it is not common practice. Many executives and executive teams fail to complete critically important work for no other reason than they don’t put those tasks on the calendar and discipline themselves not to reschedule them. That’s it!

The following three simple steps ensure the most important stuff gets done.

1. Differentiate between your most important activities and less important activities. (Check out a free activity analysis HERE).

2. Put important activities in your calendar and assign enough time to complete them.

3. Do not cancel or reschedule them!


How have studies proven that being an accountable leader lessens stress and anxiety?

Kindness in the workplace has been shown to boost our immune system, improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and reduce our cortisol levels. Conversely, being blamed triggers the fight or flight response which produces the opposite effect on physical and mental health.

When leaders resist the urge to blame, admit how they contribute to problems, and focus people on finding systems solutions, they create a psychologically safe work environment where employees are less concerned about protecting themselves and more concerned with contributing to solutions.

Not only does accountable leadership create a healthier work environment, but it also produces a more productive and motivating workplace culture.

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