Leadership Lessons From Thanksgiving

When you think of Thanksgiving, you probably think of family gatherings, great food, turkey, and a brief reprieve from work. You may not think of leadership.

Today, I want to challenge you to think about the leadership lessons Thanksgiving can teach us. It’s not that far of a stretch. It’s just something we don’t think about often.

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner on a table

Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to show us what leadership can be about. Let’s look at those things today.

Leadership Lessons From Thanksgiving

1. Leaders need to be thankful:

The Thanksgiving holiday comes but once a year. On this day, people begin to remember what they’re thankful for. Everybody has multiple things they can be thankful for.

When I think of what I’m thankful for, I think of the following:

  • My wife, Pamela
  • My dog, Lok
  • Good health
  • God
  • Financial security
  • A great home
  • My family
  • You guys, my readers

There’s a lot to be thankful for and I barely touched the surface. However, we need to remember to be thankful on a daily basis.

A heart of gratitude does the mind and body good. Psychology Today wrote an article about the benefits of gratitude.

2. Leaders need to bring people together:

Thanksgiving is a holiday that brings families together. Families will travel across the country to be home with their families during this time.

Leaders can learn something from this. Leaders can learn to bring their people together.

Whether you’ve been working remotely or struggling to make it into the office, people need to see and connect with one another. Bringing them together on a regular basis can help with this need.

Find ways to get your team together, physically, on a regular basis. This creates connections mentally and emotionally with those you lead.

3. Leaders need to find a way to connect:

More than bringing people together, leaders need to find a way to connect with their teams. Thanksgiving often does this through the big, traditional family dinner.

Leaders need to find a substitute for the family dinner that works for their business.

This could be a fun competition in the office. It could be regular one-on-one sessions with team members. Or it could be taking team members out to lunch or dinner.

Breaking bread with people is a terrific way to connect. It’s not the only way but it is a good one. Find a way to connect that works for you and your team members.

4. Leaders need to know what battles to fight:

Have you ever been to a Thanksgiving celebration and someone begins to talk about politics? It never ends well.

Angry words are thrown across the table. Tempers flare. Maybe fisticuffs are even thrown.

It’s not pretty. It’s not fun. Yet it happens.

Someone chose the wrong battle to fight.

Leaders, we have to choose the right battles to fight within our organizations. This can be hard as we all love to have our hill to die on.

However, choosing wisely what to fight for will help your longevity and the peace in your organization.

5. Leaders know there is more than enough to go around:

Any great Thanksgiving dinner has a plethora of food. From the canned green beans to the mashed potatoes to the biscuits to the turkey… There’s always an abundance of food to eat.

By the end of Thanksgiving dinner, there’s always leftovers. This tells us there was more than enough food to go around.

This holds true in business. There’s more than enough to go around.

There will always be more tasks someone can take on. There will be more business deals to be made. There’ll be another person to hire or fire. There will be more meetings to attend.

There’s always more than enough to do in leadership. Keep at it!

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