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Five Gifts Leaders Can Give This Holiday Season

5 Gifts

For many people, gift giving is connected to the holiday season. Personally, this season fills me with dread as I find the art of gift giving stressful. I lack ideas and second guess the ones I do have. It’s clearly not a strength.  My husband, on the other hand, knows what gifts will delight others. His observant nature enables him to select meaningful gifts that convey, “I know you and I see you.” Guess who does the holiday shopping in our house?  

What about you?  Is gift giving a strength or weakness? Something that fills you with joy or dread? 

Whether or not you partake in gift giving or are good at it, we thought we’d use this season to offer leaders five gift ideas you can give to your team all year round. They won’t cost you a penny, yet the returns will be big.  We are also re-gifting previous blogs so you can dig into these topics further for the learning and insight.     

1. The Gift of Appreciation  

Appreciation is a critical form of communication and feedback says, “I see you. I value you. You matter.”  Recognizing what is good about people, their strengths, actions and behaviours, has huge benefits. It builds trust and confidence, engages, and motivates us to do our best work.  It also reinforces what’s working and what can be repeated. Sincere and specific appreciation is a gift you can give to team members to remind them they are valued. 

Gallup’s workplace research suggests praise should outweigh criticism by a 5-to-1 margin.  

Yet, with all these benefits and it being free and abundant, appreciation it is one of the most underused tools leaders reach for. But it’s a game-changer for leaders who have the courage to lean in.  Not sure how to get started? Read our blog on How to give and receive appreciation at work.   

Who is one person on your team that you can appreciate tomorrow?   

2. The Gift of Curiosity  

Leadership is not about having all the answers, solving all the problems, or doing all the deciding; it’s about being curious and asking powerful questions. Short open-ended questions that start with ‘what’ or ‘how’ engage the brain differently and invite dialogue. They provoke insight and possibilities, and help people find their own answers.  We call this the coach mindset and it’s the way we as leaders help people learn and grow.   

Curiosity is also a way to get to know people and build relationships, which is how the work gets done. And because curiosity and judgement can’t hold the same space, being genuinely curious and asking those open-ended questions helps us learn and understand more about people — their intentions, what’s important to them and their capabilities. Curiosity is also one of the Eight Leadership Lessons we can Learn from Ted Lasso.  

Being curious gives the gift of insight, learning and self-sufficiency. Stay curious longer. 

What is one way you can bring curiosity to your leadership this week?  

3. The Gift of Listening  

As leaders, we need to talk less and listen more. There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth! Studies show we think we are better listeners than we actually are. Distractions, time pressures, and the myth of multitasking make it hard for us to be good listeners. And think about when we do listen…are we listening to win, solve, fix, or make our next point? Or are we listening to learn, understand or empathize?  Are you a good listener? is a blog that goes deeper.  

Like curiosity, active listening is an essential skill for leaders.  It’s how we build trust, connection, and relationships. It’s how we let people know they are seen, heard, and understood.   

Active listening takes place on many levels. It requires us to minimize distractions and be present in the conversation, like we have no other place to be. It’s listening to what is said and what isn’t said. It’s observing tone and body language. It’s reflecting what we’ve heard. And when we ask a question, it’s creating and holding the space to sit in silence so the other person can think deeply, explore options, and find answers. Silence isn’t always comfortable, but it is powerful.    

What would the gift of more listening do for you and your team?  

4. The Gift of Vulnerability  

The very definition of vulnerability is, “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure” as social scientist and author Brené Brown describes it. Many of us avoid it. Who wants to step into all of that and be judged?  

Yet our ability as leaders to be vulnerable and show up when we can’t control the outcome is the most courageous thing we can do.  To be vulnerable is to acknowledge our humanness, our imperfections, and our emotions is being able to say, “I don’t have all the answers”, “I’m sorry” or, “This is hard”.    

And here’s the prize. When we role model vulnerability by being vulnerable, we create the conditions and set the tone for our team to be vulnerable.  The space gets safe, situations get real, conversations get deeper, and people have permission to show up authentically.  And there is value in bringing our whole selves to work.   

Vulnerability builds trust and empathy and sets the stage for team cohesion that drives results. It’s an essential quality for leaders to embrace and a gift to the team.    

What’s one thing your team need to hear from you as we close out the year?  

5. The Gift of Time  

We are all at such a relational deficit at work. Our world has become so transactional that having a conversation with the people we lead can sometimes feel like a huge interruption or wasted time, rather than an opportunity to connect and build a relationship.      

Time is a precious commodity. It marches on and it’s undefeated. We never have enough of it and we want more of it yet, we all have the same 24 hours each day.  We can’t control how much time we have but we can control how we prioritize it.    

People are at the heart of leadership. That’s how the work gets done and results are achieved. Our purpose as leaders is to help them learn, grow and succeed. We do that by prioritizing relationships and giving people the gift of time.    

How do you create time in your week to connect with your team?  

Perpetual Gifts  

The gifts of appreciation, curiosity, listening, vulnerability, and time let people know they are seen and valued. They build relationships, deepen trust, and boost confidence.  And they provide the fuel for people and teams to perform, learn, excel, and drive results.  Once given, they will keep on giving.  

What is one gift you will commit to giving in the New Year?   

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