The Need for More Grace in the Workplace

Quote of the Week

“Riches may enable us to confer favours, but to confer them with propriety and grace requires a something that riches cannot give.”
— Charles Caleb Colton

The Need for More Grace in the Workplace

by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

“The people we work with and count on are also human, and despite their best intentions they don’t always do what they say they will do. We need to give them the same opportunities we afford ourselves to try and fail and try again. We need to give them the chance to be the best they could be. We need to support them in their growth and help them recognize that the journey is not about perfection but about becoming fully human.

What if grace had been more present in those organizations that are now so infamous for their hubris and greed? What if they had lived by the philosophy that leaders are here to make people want to be better people and not just want to make more money? What if all leaders started each day asking themselves, ‘In every interaction today, considering all the people I interact with, what one thing can I do to make them better?’

We could all use a bit more grace in the world these days. We could use more good will, more charm, more elegance and more thanksgiving. We could also use more forgiveness – starting with ourselves for our own limitations and shortcomings. We have to extend that same compassion to others. Leaders aren’t saints. They’re human beings, full of the same flaws and failings as the rest of us. Forgiveness can lighten that heavy burden just a little bit.

Let’s all have the humility to remember where we started and the humanity to offer others the same opportunities. When the time comes for them to speak of your legacy, is there anything better to be remembered for than ‘You made me want to be a better person’?” (Kouzes & Posner, 2006, p.160-162)

Reference: Kouzes, J.M., & Posner, B.Z., (2006). A leader’s legacy. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Reprinted with permission from the OSU Leadership Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, (614) 292-3114,

Coaching Call to Action

As you are working with your teams, colleagues and direct reports this week, ask yourself, “What one thing can I do to make them better?”