Leadership and gratitude are usually linked with an idea that an appreciated follower is a happy one. But recent research indicates that leaders who cultivate gratitude may also have more ability to delay immediate gratification to build sustainable solutions and support a stronger long-term bottom line in business and personal finances.
David Destino, in the Harvard Business Review Blog, reports that “Gratitude is the New Willpower,” with research results that imply the power of a grateful attitude to increase patience and discipline, increasing the ability to wait for higher payouts to build a stronger bottom line. In a study where participants were offered immediate payouts of smaller amounts, or later payouts of larger amounts, participants who had been reflecting on positive situations and developing a feeling of gratitude were able to hold out for the bigger payoff. They report:
“As we expected, individuals who wrote about neutral or happy times had a strong preference for immediate payouts. But those who’d described feeling grateful showed significantly more patience. They required an immediate $63, on average, to forgo receiving $85 in three months, whereas the neutral and happy groups required only $55, on average, to forgo the same future gain. Even more telling was the fact that any given participant’s degree of patience was directly related to the amount of gratitude he or she reported feeling. It’s important to note that positive feelings alone were not enough to enhance patience: Happy participants were just as impatient as those in the neutral condition. The influence of gratitude was quite specific.
We see broad implications for these findings, since they suggest that gratitude can foster long-term thinking. We all recognize the fact that willpower can and does fail at times. Having an alternative source of patience – one that can come from something as simple as reflecting on an emotional memory – offers an important new tool for long-term success. And that itself is something to be grateful for.”