Determining Your Grateful Leadership IQ

by Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.

Can grateful leadership improve your chances for project success?

When we talk about using grateful leadership practices accompanied by the power of acknowledgment, we normally assume that we know the people we are interfacing with, we have chosen the right words and at the right time, and reinforced our words with the correct actions so that our leadership efforts would maximize the chances for project success. But all too often, we worry about not using the correct words; or providing acknowledgment at the wrong time and sometimes the actions we take with the misbelief that it is grateful leadership are viewed as being detrimental for the results we were hoping for. To show how challenging it may be to use grateful leadership practices effectively, and to help you improve, we will give you a GRATEFUL LEADERSHIP IQ exercise. These are all based on real life situations!

For this first question and then in each of the questions provided in the next several articles (one every other week), select what you believe you would do in each situation. If you would chose a different alternative than what is provided, too bad! You must select one and only one answer from the four choices provided for each question.

At the end of each question, you will be provided with an answer key for grading purposes as well as an “epilogue” section on what actually happened in these real life examples. So, let’s examine your Grateful Leadership IQ.

Question 1: Is Team Acknowledgment Necessary?

You have just completed a project that was well accepted by the client. The team consisted of you (the project manager), an assistant project manager, and 30 functional employees.

At the request of senior management in your company, marketing wants to put a picture of you and your assistant project manager in the local newspaper with a letter of appreciation for a job well done on this project. You should:

  1. Decline the request since it may alienate some of the team members.
  2. Politely accept since you do not want to offend senior management.
  3. Politely accept and request that the names of the other team members appear below the picture of you and the assistant project manager.
  4. Politely accept under the condition that it be a “project team” photo including the entire team.

Answer Key for Grateful Leadership

Do You Possess the Skills of a Grateful Leader?

Answer to Question 1:

Answer A seems like the right thing to do, but it could be viewed as insubordination in the eyes of senior management. (2 points) Answer B may look good, but these team members may never want to work for you again. (no points) Answer C is possible but your picture will be there and only the names of the team members. (3 points) Answer D is the best choice because it shows the team that you are acknowledging their contributions to the project. (4 points)

Epilogue: The project manager’s photo and that of the assistant project manager appeared in the newspaper without even the names of the team members. The team members felt exploited and did everything possible to prevent working for either of these two people again. The project manager and the assistant project manager did not understand the long term implications of their decision or how the team would react. This was a classical failure of grateful leadership.

[Reference: Judith W. Umlas, Grateful Leadership, McGraw Hill and IIL Co-publishers, 2013; P.33]

Stay tuned for more of these great questions in the Grateful Leadership IQ series – one every two weeks! And you can even send your situations or questions to us for Dr. Kerzner to answer: [email protected].