The 5 Cs of Grateful Leaders: Concluding Thoughts and Next Steps

by Judith Umlas

this blog post originally appeared at ATD.

The 5 Cs blog series has come to a close. Now, I invite you to pat yourself on the back—you have completed something that is truly life altering and transformational. You are now ready to fully implement the 5 Cs—in your work, your lives, and your communities.

And trust me: If you begin implementing the 5 Cs in one area of your life, you will naturally—and competently—start practicing them everywhere. It happened to me recently when I was running to catch a flight.

The TSA agent who checked my boarding pass and driver’s license told me, “This isn’t you!” I looked at the boarding pass and saw a name I didn’t recognize. He saw my distress, and advised me to go to the ticket counter for a new pass and he would let me right back in. “You will make your flight!” he promised. So I ran, got a new pass, and hurried back. The TSA agent confirmed: “This is you!” And with a warm smile, let me right through, and wished me a good flight.

When I got through security, I actually had some time to spare. Feeling like I had been treated extremely well, I asked for the man’s boss to share my appreciation. When I was told he wasn’t around, I wrote a quick note that stated how positively I had been treated. I included my email address and gave it to another supervisor.

One week later, I received an email from the agent’s boss, letting me know that he almost never receives positive letters. He planned to recognize the agent as a model of how to work with the public during an upcoming meeting. I was thrilled!

Better yet, about a week later, I received another email from the agent himself: “I am walking on air! Because of your note, my boss made a positive example of me about how to treat the public, at a huge meeting. I now have to go tell my 90-year-old mother! She will be so proud of me!” This brought tears to my eyes. Writing a quick note was such a simple action. Yet, it made a huge impact for the recipients.

We can all be doing that on a regular basis when we practice the 5 Cs in every aspect of our lives. But if my story isn’t enough motivation to start practicing the 5 Cs in your own interactions, just consider the following statistics:

  • The latest Gallup studies estimate U.S. productivity loss as a result of disengaged employees is $450 billion to $550 billion per year.
  • According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Retention Practices Survey, the number one reason people leave their jobs is due to a “lack of appreciation.”

Indeed, appreciation, praise, and acknowledgment are a sure way for your people to become and stay engaged, and for you to retain your top talent.

To conclude this series, let’s review the 5 Cs:

  1. Consciousness. Become aware of acknowledgments that are already in your mind and spirit. Be mindful and they will float to the surface.
  2. Choice. You can still always choose yes or no, and hopefully you will choose yes more often now.
  3. Courage. We need courage most when we feel vulnerable, so be lionhearted and overcome your fears. You can (and now must) do it!
  4. Communications. Deliver acknowledgments profoundly and authentically, and sometimes even creatively.
  5. Commitment. This will align with your true mission, goals, and purpose—and those of your organization. Make it part of your corporate mission statement, your team and project charter, and your family structure.

(If you want a visually appealing, downloadable poster of the 5 Cs, email me atjudy.umlas@iil.com, and I will be happy to send it to you.)

Now that we must say goodbye, at least for now, here are some next steps you can take to put the 5 Cs into action.

  1. Read and reread the 5 Cs—maybe on a daily basis!
  2. Find ways to remind yourself to show your appreciation on a daily basis. If you need to set a calendar reminder to do so, that’s okay.
  3. Put the poster of the 5 Cs up in your office space and discuss it with visitors to your area.
  4. Have conversations with your staff about acknowledgment and share this series with them.
  5. Ask team members how they would feel if every meeting ended in “appreciations.”
  6. Keep a calendar journal of who you have appreciated or acknowledged each day. If you consult the journal regularly and see a lot of blank pages, seek a better way to remind yourself to record acknowledgments.

Remember: Practicing the 5 Cs is transformational! Once they become core values for you, your team, and your organization, you simply can’t go back to the way life was before—when you didn’t recognize the importance of grateful leadership.

IIL has generously offered to give away one copy of each book in the Acknowledgment Trilogy (see www.GratefulLeadership.com) to someone who has a positive result from practicing the 5 Cs (or any one of them) to share with us. Please send an email tojudy.umlas@iil.com describing this experience and its result. And remember to share the 5 Cs with everyone you know! This will help to make a positive difference in the world.

With gratitude, Judy