5 Ways to Become a More Grateful Leader

Ever notice a lot of leaders lack…gratitude?

They’ll tell you that they have it harder than most people, that they’re stressed out and generally leave you feeling like their life is unreasonably demanding.

I’ve been there…and maybe you’re there right now.

You want to be grateful, but you’re incredibly stressed and you’re just…not…feelin’…it.

How to be a more grateful leader

It’s actually very important for you as a leader to remain grateful.

The attitude you bring to work trickles down. Your tone becomes either the attitude your team adopts or you become the leader the team avoids. 

What do you do when you don’t feel grateful? When you’re stressed? When you’re really discouraged? Especially when all the usual response like “just be thankful” or “count your blessings” fall flat or make you even more frustrated?

Well, naturally, you’ll pray. And that really helps.

And here are 5 other practical ways to foster gratitude when you’re not feelin’ it:

1. Ask yourself a better question when you run into a problem.

Instead of getting discouraged by problems, I have learned to ask myself this question every time something doesn’t go the way I was hoping it would: “What does this experience make possible?”  I learned this question from Michael Hyatt (and wrote a full post on it here.) Leaders are the people who find the way when there is no way.

We are the ones called to see the situation as realistically as anyone but never stop hoping or finding a way through.  That’ll make you more grateful. By the way, it also inspires the people around you.

2. Remember where you started.

I always tell our team, leaders get paid to see the cracks. And that’s true. We get paid (or volunteered ourselves) into seeing the problems and solving them before anyone else sees them. But that means some days you only see the problems. That can often leave me feeling we’re not making enough progress fast enough.

What do you do in a moment like that? Focus on where you started. Chances are you have made progress. Chances are you have things to be grateful for. If you’re a new leader and don’t have a track record, think back to your high school days when you had no idea what you were going to do with your life. Almost every time, you’ll be able to find some progress you’ve made and be able to celebrate something.

3. Focus on the future.

We leaders are dealers in hope. When you’re stuck or discouraged, remind yourself of the vision you remind everyone else of. After all, you’re working toward a better future. The reason many people don’t make it to that goal is because it’s hard, but that’s not going to do you in, right? Think about what will happen when you get to the next chapter.

Some days the only way you get through the desert is to remember you’re heading to the Promised Land.

4. Look around you.

In my worst moments, I can convince myself nobody has it harder than me. I’ll send out invites to my pity party. In those moments, I’ve also learned to catch myself and look around me. So many people have it harder than me. So many people would love to have the problems you and I deal with.

We are a blessed people. Really. When I look around, it give me empathy for others and renewed gratitude for the opportunities I’ve been given.

5. Spend some time with a person who energizes you.

When you feel drained (and who doesn’t from time to time), get around a person who energizes you. This is especially critical when you’ve been in a season where you’re main contact has been with people who drain you (it’s an occupational hazard of leadership). Come on…there are people who make you smile every time you talk to them. People you have dinner with you make you feel so alive when it’s over. Call em. Hang out with em. It will refresh you!

 I often find that when I work through a combination of these 5 strategies, I end up in a different place.

What helps you?

And by the way…to everyone celebrating Thanksgiving this week in the United States, a very Happy Thanksgiving to you. You need to know how grateful this Canadian is for all my American friends.


  1. Hazel Behrens on November 23, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Thanks for linking current post on affect gratitude has on Attitude as a leader, since this is the article I needed today.
    These 5 added to prayer will help me reset my gratitude attitude when it is week. That happens more often than I like.

  2. joshpezold on December 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Great post. Love reading these over Christmas break when I have some time to process, especially entering into the new year. It helps to remember that when things are beyond my control, that’s when I see God really show up. When I can’t do anything in my own flesh, that’s when I see God show up the biggest. I become more grateful when trials come that are beyond my control, because it forces me to turn to Jesus more and see Him like never before. Thanks Carey. Keep writing!!!

    • Carey Nieuwhof on December 27, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Thanks Josh. Little encouragements like this mean a lot! So appreciate it.

  3. Leadership Roundup - Worship Links on December 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    […] Carey Nieuwhof wrote about five things you can do to be a more grateful leader: […]

  4. Steve Cooper on November 30, 2013 at 7:04 am

    The best we can say at this point is, “Thank you!” Thanks for corraling good thoughts that lead us to gratefulness, praise, and worship.

  5. […] 5 Ways To Become A More Grateful Leader by Carey Nieuwhof […]

  6. Kasey Van Daley on November 27, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    It’s a shame that we (read ME!) wade through the bulk of the year before stopping to intentionally do these things. We need “Thanksgiving” daily, weekly, monthly. It’s not only better for us, but for those around us or following us. Thank you for your leadership from afar!

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