New Rochelle Author and Corporate Trainer Judith Umlas Encourages Workplace Acknowledgement

Her new book, Grateful Leadership: Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results, highlights the importance of grateful leadership as the key to a successful company.

In 2006, after feeling what she says was frustration about people being shocked about being acknowledged, New Rochelle native Judith Umlas authored her first book about the importance of being grateful. This January, the 65-year-old corporate trainer, and senior vice president at consulting/training firm International Institute for Learning took her message directly to corporate leaders in her second book, Grateful Leadership: Using the Power of Acknowledgment to Engage All Your People and Achieve Superior Results. Here, Umlas provides an inside peek at her book.

When did your Interest in gratitude begin? In 2004, my husband started writing me biweekly acknowledgement letters. He first started writing because I was having a really bad day, and he asked how he could make it better. I said, ‘Write me a love letter.’  Ten minutes later, I had this amazing letter full of acknowledgements.

That was my “aha” moment. Two years later, I wrote my first book, The Power of Acknowledgment. It was for everybody—teachers and mothers and fathers and kids. But this new book, Grateful Leadership, is really just for business people.

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What is grateful leadership? It is about expressing appreciation and gratitude to build stronger relationships, neutralize jealousy and envy, produce great results, and even improve your health.

How can someone become a more “grateful” leader? I have what I call the ‘Five Cs.’  The first is consciousness. You first have to become aware of the gratitude and acknowledgements that are present. The second is choice—making the choice to express gratitude. The third is courage, because it does take courage to express heartfelt gratitude. The fourth C is communication, and the fifth C is commitment.

Can you give an example of the results of someone implementing your strategies? I have gotten so many stories from people reporting excitement, enthusiasm, brightness, aliveness, and sense of well-being.

Ever trained any big-name clients? I’ve trained more than 20,000 managers, many who have been well-known executives, but the US Army is my most meaningful client. I’ve been asked to develop a pilot program to prevent suicide, which is just haunting all branches of the military. I’m piloting this program at Fort Drum, New York.

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