The importance of Appreciative Leadership

Showing genuine appreciation is a strength that all leaders need to practice to bring out the best in themselves and others.

As a participant in the Great Lakes Leadership Academy, I was first introduced to the concept of Appreciative Leadership, and it has helped to transform my growth and evolution as a leader. Appreciation has given rise to better understand the things that connect us as humans, and it reinforces my personal aspiration to pursue leadership for the common good.  

To start, it is important for leaders to acknowledge hardships, demonstrate vulnerability, and show they care for the people they lead. By demonstrating these attributes, leaders can build trust and help others reframe challenges into ideas for moving ahead. New opportunities can be explored through open dialogue that is respectful, authentic, and inclusive. The Great Lakes Leadership Academy at Michigan State University Extension uses this approach to grow and inspire leaders as they impact their organizations and communities.

The Leadership Advancement Program encourages participants to read Appreciative Leadership written by Diana Whitney and Amanda Trosten-Bloom. In the book, the authors highlight five key “I’s” for appreciative leaders to keep in mind which include:

  • Inquiry: Leading with positively powerful questions
  • Illumination: Bring out the best in people
  • Inclusion: Engaging others to cocreate the future
  • Inspiration: Awaken the creative spirit
  • Integrity: Make choices for the good of the whole

These values have become foundational to my perspective as a leader. I have learned through my interactions with others, and by observing great leaders in action, that creating strong connections in my individual relationships, on teams, and within organizations, requires an ability to give and show genuine appreciation. It also demonstrates compassion and helps others feel seen and recognized. Appreciation can help leaders can shape a vision for resilience, transformation and thriving.

When you have a moment, take time to appreciate your own unique strengths that have carried you through recent moments. Then when an opportunity is presented for you to share appreciation towards someone else, do it and repeat. Practicing appreciation over time is a great way to uplift your leadership skills and provide inspiration for others to follow.

The mission of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy is to promote positive change, economic vitality, and resource conservation and enhance the quality of life in Michigan by encouraging leadership for the common good. 

To learn more about the Great Lakes Leadership Academy and the ways we encourage leadership for the common good, please visit glla.msu.edu. GLLA is now accepting applications for the seventh cohort of the Leadership Advancement Program (LAP). Applications will be accepted now through June 30, 2021.

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