Positive Leadership: The Staff Series “Practicing Gratitude”

September 16, 2016

In Professor Kim Cameron’s book Positive Leadership: Strategies for Extraordinary Performance, he says “the expressions of gratitude by one person tended to motivate others to express gratitude, so a self-perpetuating, virtuous cycle occurred when gratitude was expressed.”  Continue reading to hear what Marla McGraw has to say about practicing gratitude.

Name: Marla McGraw
Title: Sr. Associate Director
Number of years at Ross: 7 yrs.

1. Before you attended the sessions, what did you think you were going to gain from them?

I knew about Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) and had the privilege of knowing Betsy Erwin, and knew of Professors Robert Quinn and Jane Dutton.  As I had been in Human Resources before coming to Ross, I had read some of their books and been exposed to the competing values framework.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to takes classes that I would have liked to take previously but had not had the chance to be able to do so.

2. How would you explain/describe the experience of attending these sessions to a close friend or family member?

I appreciated the theory being given with all the research and statistics, as well as the self-reflective exercises.  For anyone outside of academia, POS is a new concept and it takes a while for all these ideas to be explained and absorbed.  It is different than talking to someone who has been previously exposed to this work.

3. What did you take away and how do you see yourself applying what you learned into your everyday life?

Attending these sessions and reflecting on what was taught, I wrote a mission statement, refined my life statement, resonated with the gratitude journal, and anchored myself – who I am.

4. What constitutes a positive work environment?

A positive work environment is one where employees practice gratitude with each other and support one another.  Collaboration is found everywhere, as well as deep respect for colleagues.  There is no malicious gossip!  It is not that negativity is not expressed but it is limited and is based on boundaries that everyone is aware of.  This workplace is one where all employees bring their authentic self.


I am grateful for these sessions.  They provided a window into why we are here, as well as what the faculty are teaching our students.

If you would like to discover how to be a more effective and positive leader, we highly recommend that you read the book How to Be a Positive Leader: Small Actions, Big Impact, edited by Jane E. Dutton and Gretchen M. Spreitzer.

Positive Leadership: The Staff Series is a group of interviews capturing staff reflections after participating in the Positive Leadership Workshops.