Great Leaders Exhibit Gratitude

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John Blom

John Blom

By John Blom

Last year I blogged about my experience as president of my local association, so it seemed right to wrap it all up with a grand finale — a seminal description of the lessons that I learned as part of that experience.

I sat down last week to write that post and ended up staring at my computer screen for 30 minutes. I tried again the next day with same results. Certainly there were plenty of lessons learned: the importance of planning, getting people on board with your vision, and dealing with a crisis, but none of those got my creative juices flowing.

Then last night it hit me — gratitude. Sustainable success can only be built on a foundation of gratitude.

The success of an organization depends on the health and happiness of its people. At their core people want and need to feel appreciated. As a leader, you can only appreciate the people around you if you recognize that their success is your success.

During difficult situations, it’s often easier to recognize the valuable contributions of those around you. Our association hired a new executive the month before my year as president began. The new AE rose to the demands we placed on her time and time again throughout last year, and I think the board members and I did a pretty good job of letting her know how much we appreciated her efforts.

I don’t say that to pat ourselves on the back. As I look back at the year, I’m not sure we would have shown that same appreciation had our previous AE still been in the position — not because she wouldn’t have done the job well, but because we’d come to expect it and perhaps take it for granted.


@TukTukDesign 2016.

No one ever gets tired of being appreciated, and leaders that consistently show gratitude to those around them will establish a high level of trust and loyalty. Leading from a place of gratitude extends beyond people to situations and opportunities. Over the course of the last 18 months, my involvement with the association has opened the door to some incredible opportunities.

In part, because of my involvement with the REALTOR® Party and the relationship that allowed me to create with our local congresswoman, she shared with me her single guest ticket to last year’s State of the Union address — a truly once in a lifetime experience.

During the NAR Leadership Summit in the summer of 2015, I got to see the San Francisco Giants, who I’ve cheered for since I was 5 year old, play the Chicago Cubs at historic Wrigley Field (that experience might have been better if the Cubs hadn’t swept the Giants in that series).

But, being involved in leadership has also had its costs: business opportunities lost because of travel, bedtime stories with my kids missed due to meetings, and the extra stress of trying to do what’s best for our association’s members, our clients, and our communities.

It’s easy to be grateful for the fun times and good experiences, but finding gratitude in those challenging times is important as well. Of course you won’t be grateful for missing bedtime with your kids (unless your kid is a 2-year-old going through a brief stage in which every bed time is a 60-minute World War II reenactment). Rather than feel resentment or frustration in those challenges, be grateful for the opportunity to make a difference.

Leadership skills can be learned and developed. But, gratitude is the multiplier that can take those skills and propel you to heights far beyond your expectations. As leader in your association and your community, be thankful for the people you have around you, the opportunities with which you are presented, and the challenges that you will overcome — then there is no limit to what you can achieve.

John Blom is a broker for the Hasson Company REALTORS® working in the Portland/SW Washington market. He is the immediate past-president for the Clark County Association of REALTORS®. You can find him on Twitter: @johndblom, LinkedIn, on his website, or e-mail him at





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