Leading with Graciousness

By Thomas W. Gaffery IV, MBA, CAPP

Years ago, I attended a mentor’s workshop entitled “The art of graciousness.” The topic is something that has crossed my mind many times since. The idea of graciousness in the workplace is fascinating because it can be a nebulous thing and takes ongoing practice.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of gracious includes, “marked by kindness and courtesy … charm, good taste … tact and delicacy.”

What does it mean to lead with graciousness? The answer can vary depending on your own personality and style, but there are a number of ways you can begin to practice leading with graciousness.

First, “graciousness” often brings to mind the phrase “a gracious host.” How does that concept extend to the workplace? A gracious leader easily leads projects with an open and welcoming aura. A gracious leader comfortably interacts with staff at all levels of the organization. He or she actively listens and does not dominate the conversation.

Second, take the Golden Rule one step further and follow the Platinum Rule. Treat others how they want to be treated. In parking, we have many opportunities for practice. We often encounter customers when they’re just not having their best day. Put the Platinum Rule into action: rise above the petty, avoid matching their tone and body language, and kill ‘em with kindness!

Finally, never underestimate the power of the handwritten thank-you card. Set aside time to reflect on the prior week and write a thank-you card to someone who helped or made a difference. Go beyond just subordinates and peers—show your gratitude to colleagues who have had an effect across the organization. This is a bygone tradition and folks are always pleasantly surprised.

Social media has dramatically changed how humans interact. Leading with graciousness is a soft skill that will absolutely set you apart.