Think about the number of times you had reason to say, “You are welcome” over the last week. Would you say that it was 1 time, 10 times, 50 times, more? Now, think about what prompted you to say it each time? Next, think about what you did to earn the privilege of hearing the words “Thank you”  from another human being. I’ve stated on many occasions that one of my favorite phrases to say is, “You are welcome” because in order to say those words another human being must have had reason to communicate their appreciation for something you did for them.

There are easy ways to earn a quick Thank you: open a door for someone else, compliment another for a specific reason, or treat a teammate to a cup of coffee. I am certain you can come up with dozens of ways to hear those two words in no time at all. Every Thank you is precious and yet there are plenty of people in this world who are so internally focused that they rarely have reason to say, “You are welcome.” Many of these people may even overlook the proper response should they unintentionally give another human being reason to utter those words.

Not all expressions of gratitude are easily earned, some take sustained and significant effort. Recently, I have heard two of the most beautiful expressions of gratitude a leader could receive. It wasn’t the gratitude that accompanies helping a teammate achieve a professional milestone or accomplish a specific goal. And it wasn’t the gratitude that accompanies helping a colleague navigate a challenging time or extending a hand to someone in need. It’s the gratitude expressed for giving another human the opportunity to love again. Yes, you read that correctly. These two quotes from two different people on separate occasions are the reasons for two of my favorite You are welcomes in a long time.

  • “Thank you for getting me to love my job again”
  • “Thank you for giving my husband reason to love what he does again”

Love for our work isn’t a given. And even when we love what we do, there are times when circumstances change and our job becomes little more than something we endure. Same job, same place; different leader, different outlook. A leader’s job is to inspire and develop others so they reach their individual potential and effectively partner with teammates to accomplish organizational objectives. We can’t do that if we don’t give our team reason to love what they do (or if we take away the reasons that they do). And it’s nearly impossible to expect them to do that if our love for our profession and our teammates isn’t visible.

I am in no way belittling a Thank you for the little things, though I am acknowledging that there are degrees of gratitude. All equally deserving of a You are welcome, yet each unique in the level of satisfaction we feel when we respond. I don’t hear it often and it isn’t the primary objective, but as a leader, there are few things as gratifying as being part of the reason a teammate loves what they do (again).

  • Is the love for your team and your profession visible?
  • Are you giving others reason to love their job?
  • Are you satisfied with degrees of gratitude across your team?