4 Reasons Leaders Feel Ungrateful After a Big Win
Accomplishing a big goal can be a monumental achievement, bringing with it adrenaline-fueled elation. But in the moment of celebration, leaders often overlook one important element: gratitude. Taking time to recognize the people and circumstances that enabled this success can bring even deeper satisfaction over our accomplishment; however, too commonly we simply move forward without providing due recognition.
To avoid disregarding those who have played integral parts in achieving a goal, here are the four reasons why leaders frequently lack gratitude when they’ve just accomplished something special.
1. Imposter syndrome has a poisonous effect on gratitude.
Instead of being proud and feeling gratitude for what they have achieved, leaders who struggle with this phenomenon can’t help but doubt themselves and feel like their good fortune was mere luck or a fluke. They create scenarios in their minds where they were not the ones responsible for their success and that someone else was more important to the outcome.
Self-doubt haunts them as they worry about being exposed as frauds; they feel undeserving of their accomplishment. Yet, gratitude should be the focus instead: gratitude for the hard work and determination that went into fulfilling the goal and gratitude for mentors who provided support, guidance and encouraging words on the journey.
As leaders, we should embrace gratitude in each moment to ensure our future successes don’t remain uncelebrated and become overshadowed by feelings of unworthiness.
2. Imposter syndrome leads to an immense feeling of dissatisfaction despite achieving a big goal.
Although a big goal is something to be celebrated, gratitude is oftentimes put aside in lieu of worrying about what comes next. Leaders convince themselves that “when” they hit that big goal, they will be satisfied. But once they hit that big goal, they are constantly thinking about what is next.
It’s natural for leaders to want to push themselves; however, it’s important to open up the opportunity for gratitude — enjoying the feeling of success and allowing yourself space to learn and grow from your accomplishments. Taking the time to appreciate the journey you’ve been on can help recharge and replenish your spirit so that you can enjoy tackling your next goal with more gratitude and enthusiasm.
3. Leaders feel guilty for enjoying their accomplishments when others are going through difficult times.
This is an all too common feeling for business leaders and CEOs. They’ve just accomplished something big — a new project is finished, a goal is met — and they should be feeling proud and grateful. But instead, they feel guilty: guilt for enjoying their success when others are going through tough times.
They know that there are people who have worked just as hard, if not harder than they have but haven’t achieved the same level of success. They may feel embarrassed at being fully grateful for what they’ve just accomplished. And so they shy away from celebrating their accomplishments and from properly giving gratitude to those who helped them along the way.
As anyone who has achieved a high level of success can attest, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of comparison. We all know that comparison is the thief of joy. The truth is that when business leaders can slow down and appreciate what they’ve accomplished, they will realize that their success is an inspiration to help others find hope through their hard times.
Gratitude is a powerful emotion, one that can help us see the good in ourselves and in the world around us. And it’s important to remember that we all have the capacity to give hope to others — even in the darkest of times. So next time you’re feeling guilty about your accomplishments, take a moment to appreciate all that you’ve achieved. Remember that your success can be a source of hope for others.
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4. Leaders forget all the people who helped them along the way.
Successful leadership is not complete without gratitude. After all, no one succeeds alone — even the most acclaimed of leaders owe their accomplishments to countless people who helped them along their journey. When those same leaders ignore or forget to express gratitude for that invaluable assistance, it’s more than just a social blunder. It sends a message to their teams that they aren’t valued or appreciated and makes them less enthusiastic to offer assistance in the future.
It’s easy for leaders to justify because they internally believe that they are being watched and judged by others and that someone is always waiting for them to fail. Gratitude is an essential part of successful leadership because it shows humility and reinforces the team-oriented attitude needed for future victories. Our successes are all the more celebrated when shared with others.
When gratitude is missing in leadership, there can be devastating repercussions. Leaders who forget to show gratitude for their success and the help of others can easily fall into loneliness as a result of their achievements. It’s easy to feel isolated when we reach our goals and neglect to nurture the relationships that contributed to our success. This kind of loneliness is an enemy of a successful career, as it often leads to burnout and limited tenure.
To be effective leaders, we must invest time and energy into cultivating meaningful gratitude-filled relationships with those close to us. Nurturing gratitude within ourselves is also essential — when leaders can acknowledge and own their successes, they experience true leadership potential.
Here are a few tips you can practice:
1. As my friend, Jennifer, suggests, when you and your team accomplish something meaningful, encourage them to take out their résumés and write down the accomplishment as a win!
2. If imposter syndrome creeps in, think about three measurable moments that you overcame adversity to achieve the goal, and give yourself gratitude for it. Be grateful for overcoming the tough stuff, not necessarily accomplishing the big stuff.
3. When you are publicly talking about the goal or accomplishment, make sure to thank your team before acknowledging your own contributions
While these traps are easy to fall into, leaders can appreciate their big wins by practicing gratitude.