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The Power of a Thank You

Average reading time: 2 minutes

Thank you.

These are two small, yet incredibly powerful words that can so easily be overlooked by leaders and team members.

During the entire 12-month period of preparing for and deploying on my second tour of duty to Iraq, I cannot recall a single time when our Commanding Officer expressed any appreciation for the work that my squadron was doing.

And whilst this was by no means the main reason I left the Army, it was one of the final nails in the coffin so to speak.

Don’t get me wrong though I was, and continue to be, very self-motivated. I didn’t want or need much in the way of thanks.

But it is noticeable when it’s totally absent. And the soldiers whom I had the privilege and responsibility to lead would have appreciated it hugely.

I’m doing a lot of research at the moment studying the world’s most successful teams in different arenas. It’s still too early to distil my findings down into a few pearls of wisdom, but it’s clear that a simple, authentic appreciation of gratitude underpins much of what enables teams to be great. For example;

  • Building psychological safety within the team…a thank you helps.
  • Encouraging healthy conflict…thanking those that are brave enough to speak up undoubtedly helps.
  • Maintaining morale…a thank you helps.
  • Creating a learning culture…thanking someone who was brave enough to share their mistake and what they learned from it absolutely helps.

Throughout my career I’ve spotted a trend where the more senior you become, the more clipped your written communication tends to be. It’s not the case for everyone, but it’s certainly ‘a thing’.

Many years ago, I made a commitment to be the politest leader I know.

I’ll always say thank you to those that have helped me.

Sometimes people challenge me on this and say;

“Why should I thank someone for just doing their job?”

My answer?

Because they are a human beings.

Because it’s the right thing to do.

Because it’s a fundamental building block of great teams.

And because regardless of circumstances, people always have a choice about whether or not they continue to work for you. If you don’t mind your p’s and q’s, as they say, people might just decide to move on…as I did in Iraq.

Paying it forward

I have four sets of Thank You cards to give away so that you can thank those that have helped you. To win a set, simply share this post on social media, remembering to tag me and I’ll enter your name in the draw.


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