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Paddle Boarding or Biscuits? Six speakers on how leaders can show gratitude to their people

By December 2, 2021December 15th, 2021No Comments

Well, this was an interesting exercise!  

Who better to talk about how leaders can say thank you in new or novel ways than speakers who share their expertise with organisations and leaders day in, day out. 

In this blog, six of our key speakers offer insights and suggestions on how leaders might approach their own work and also help support others to do theirs. From learning something new to taking time out to reflect, there are some real nuggets here.  


Margaret Heffernan 

‘The most important gift is time; it is the one thing we cannot ever manufacture more of.

So giving people more time off is invaluable. But make sure they use it!

I’d say the second best option is to give people time and money for anything they want to study. It need not be work related. But you want a company full of learners and anything they learn will enrich them as people. So give them the opportunity to learn.’ 


Mark Little 

“The most valuable gift a leader can deliver to their team at a moment of great uncertainty is safety.

And a key part of safety is permission to challenge the leader and feel rewarded for speaking up or speaking out when it matters. One way a leader can express gratitude is to say thank you individually and in person to team members who made you change your mind or think about a problem from a different perspective, or even stop you from making an ass of yourself.”


Terence Mauri

“With economic and health insecurity on the rise again, the world feels more turbulent and unpredictable than ever before. Research at Hack Future Lab, a global management think tank, shows that levels of anticipatory anxiety about the future are at record levels. 

Anxiety and performance are like oil and water. It’s a performance killer. As leaders approach the end of a challenging year, it’s wise to hit the strategic pause button and create some ‘white space’ to consider four questions.

Remember, attention is the new oil in this age of attention extraction business models.

  1. Reflect: What are the boldest moves we’ve made this year and what can we do to celebrate their success in a meaningful and relevant way?
  2. Recognise: How do we create an ‘imprintable moment’ for our people? An imprintable moment is an emotionally charged moment of truth that we remember forever. For example, it could be a personal video message, a handwritten note or a relevant book of gratitude.
  3. Refuel: Do we make well-being, recognition and inclusion the foundation of our cultures and make sure that every individual speaks truth to power and is respected.
  4. Reimagine: What do we need to reimagine from leadership to psychological safety in order to be future-fit, healthy and resilient in the face of future adversity?

To sum up, the biggest threat is not turbulence itself but getting trapped in yesterday’s logic.”


Neil O’Brien 

“I would love it if an organisation, in 2022, would cover the initial cost or fee (within reason) for every staff member to do something during the year that they would be a complete beginner at. 

I think it is really good for our mental health to be a complete beginner again at something. It exercises our curiosity, gets us beyond our comfort zone, and challenges us again to learn something quickly.

This is known as the beginner mindset and is also really good to get us past being self-conscious and the need to be ‘cool’.

Then it would be fab to organise a forum or event where people could share their stories and experiences. For me it has been standup paddle-boarding. Sure, I spent more time under the board than actually on it, but it was such fun and such a great experience to have”


Luke O’Neill

Luke O_Neill

Celebrations continue to be challenging as COVID19 is still with us, but remember you can still meet safely, especially if you use antigen tests and the older and more vulnerable are 7 days past being boosted. And of course being outside decreases the risk of COVID19 hugely. So be imaginative and try to celebrate the year gone by as best you can and remember. 

The good news?  Once the Spring comes the worst of this phase of the pandemic will be behind us.”

 Christine Armstrong 

Christine Armstrong

Everyone needs some joy….

“Oh gosh, everyone needs some joy, especially when the works party got cancelled & politicians are advising against kissing under mistletoe (what has the world come to?).
For a token of celebration, I’m OBSESSED with the kind of fancy biscuits that can be posted through letter boxes instead of a regular card.  A little treat for everyone to have with their morning cuppa, ideally over a catch up on a real phone line with a colleague or friend.”

However you choose to express your gratitude to the people around you at work  this year, we hope it brings rewards for all.  Amidst such uncertainty, it’s certainly much needed.  You might even say ‘appreciated’! 

And if you’d like to talk to us about organising a ‘thank you’ event for your team, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

+353(0)1 475 0360

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