Basheer and I was seated in a restaurant several years ago in Guangzhou, China. When the the menu was given to us to select our order, the first thing that Basheer did was to tip the waiter. I was surprised and asked him "Why are you tipping before we have been served or even placed an order?"
He smiled at me and said nothing.
I had been living in China for several years by then and was familiar with how excellent the Chinese are at serving their guests. That day though was quite remarkable. The person put an extra effort in everything to make sure that we had the best experience ever. He went out of his way to make sure that we were delighted before we left the restaurant.
As we walked out, Basheer began by asking me a question, "Samir, would you tip someone who would give you an excellent service?"
"Of course, I would", I replied.
"Precisely. Would you tip someone who wouldn't give you an excellent service?", he asked me next.
"Of course not. Why would I do that?".
He smiled and asked me a question that was so simple and yet so profound that I had never looked at it that way before. He asked, "Why would you want to leave things to chance? Why not be the one to delight the waiter before he delights you? My tipping him at the beginning gives him the opportunity to repay my deed, rather than I repaying back for his good service."
For me that was a breakthrough moment. It felt truly awesome. I am sure the waiter must have felt it too. To be re-warded first before even committing any action. I always go back to this breakthrough insight that I had and ask myself - in which other area can I use this. As I reflect more and more upon this, I realize that it can be applied to all walks of life - and in all scenarios. It also encourages us to have the abundance mindset. We are surrounded by most behaviors that are transactional in nature when dealing with individuals. An abundant mindset gives us access to create a a transformational behavior in nature when dealing with others.
The two communication leadership styles
Life creates the opportunity for us to be leaders in several ways. Through my observation, I have noticed that there are both transactional and transformational leaders amongst us. It is not that one is right or the other is wrong; it is just that they are two different styles. What is true though in my experience is that one is more empowering than the other.
In leadership, we always desire and work towards getting things done or delivered by someone. Leadership is about getting all the individuals within a team delivering to the best. To do that, there are various methods that can be dep-loyed such as effective communication, goal setting, building of trust, etc.
One of the methods that I have realized which has great potential is the use of Active Gratitude.
The power of active gratitude
As I began to reflect this within the context of leadership I realized that everyone who is a leader also has a responsibili-ty towards their followers and to the position they hold. After all, no one can be a leader if there are no followers and having empowered followers are amongst the best kind, I believe.
Thank you for taking the time out to read this. Thank you for guiding me with my assignment. Thank you for being my mentor - These are all examples of great messages of gratitude that we express on a regular basis. The power of grati-tude is immense. It creates a sense of well being in both the receiver and the giver; and the heaven knows that we could do with so much more of gratitude in our lives, communities and workplaces as well. Yet, I believe these are all exam-ples of Passive Gratitude.
Passive Gratitude comes at the end of an action. While these are great and they will always be present, we could prac-tice so much more.
Today while mental wellbeing is a big concern within our society, we seem to be progressively moving more and more towards a stressful way of life. The challenges that we have to battle on a regular basis are increasing every single day. I began to reflect upon this aspect of life, practicing Gratitude and observed that it was a very common trait that all leaders that inspire and motivate practice.
Curiously, I began to observe the leaders that everyone adores and tried to decode how they practiced communicating gratitude versus those that were on the journey of leadership at the lower rung of the ladder.
While reflecting upon the two styles of leadership - transactional vs transformational - and seeking if the way gratitude is practiced between these two styles of leadership differed; I found that there is a distinct difference in practicing grati-tude that is evident.
To me, I define a leader not by the seat or position that they hold, but by the fact that they have followers - that they allow to be led by someone that they believe in. A inspiring leader is also someone who creates more leaders.
The 3 elements of active gratitude
So I began trying to decode the elements that help individuals practice Transformational leadership by using Active Gratitude vs Passive Gratitude which was practiced by Transactional Leaders. I found there was a common thread that runs through these. The three elements which I observed fundamentally that defines them are as follows.
Intention: The foundation or building block of every result I believe is setting intention and having the right intentions drives the relationship or action. The intentions that a Transactional Leader sets is very different from the one that a Transformational Leader sets. The leader with the intention to create leaders out of the followers are those that are creating true transformation. The language of gratitude will be driven by the intent and that will enable followers to feel empowered to do more than just what is expected out of them. Life begins to feel joyful for everyone who is involved in the equation.
Authenticity : Transformational leaders are authentic in their appreciation. They genuinely care about the people around them. Their levels of empathy are very high and they would like to really see the people meet their highest potential. It delights them to see people have full self expression and leading meaningful lives. When Transactional Leaders practice gratitude, it is mostly Passive Gratitude. In this form of gratitude, the way it is done is usually by giving an accolade or a recognition without completely being present in the moment. The passing of the gratitude is done in a very uninspiring or haphazard manner, that the receiver feels no true joy or motivation to go ahead and perform even better the next time. The act arrives at the end of its cycle. Whereas in the form of Active Gratitude by a Transformational Leader, the receiver feels inspired to do even more the next time.
Expressive: A Transformational Leader will have more energy in his or her voice and demeanor while expressing Ac-tive Gratitude. Hypothetically, Imagine if there could be one thing; and I mean any ONE THING that could be done which could make all the difference. Now, when that is done for which the gratitude is expressed… the joy with which the message would be relayed is very often in the form of Active Gratitude. Another manner of stating the same is that, the one who gives feels as expressive as the one who is intended to receive the same. This versus, someone who is expressing Passive Gratitude will not be as expressive and therefore in that exchange displays the qualities of a Transactional Leader.
We all have the opportunity to practice gratitude in various ways. We can choose to practice Active Gratitude that leaves others empowered or choose Passive Gratitude that leaves others grateful. There are things that are within our control, and there are those that are beyond our control. The more each person act with respect to whats in their control, the more likely are the chances of achieving outcomes as we desire through the people that follows the leader.
We have awesomeness within each one of us that is at the core of who we are. We can all tap into that. While everyone is free to make their choices, I would be delighted if we had more people who had the mindset that Basheer has, in this world. We attract and extract awesomeness when our way of being is beyond what is normally expected.
(Samir Geepee is a Life Coach to Individuals who seek to live a purposeful and an awesome life. Samir brings his creativity and strategic thinking to his Coaching engagements that helps his clients excel with ease and grace. Samir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or +971 567554850 )