I’m more convinced than ever, that values are the fuel of every leader. The clarity and quality of the fuel determine the depth and direction of any leader. There are no leadership skills or techniques that will ever replace the impact of the fuel that fills the tank of a leader.

The most sophisticated, high-powered, high-performance engine can be destroyed … instantly or eventually … when filled with a bad mix of fuel. So leaders are well-served by intentionally determining their formula mix. And it is our values that define the mix of the formula of our leadership fuel. This is precisely why I’m more convinced than ever … values are the fuel of every leader. It’s only recently, however, I started wondering …

What might spark the fuel?

When I first started pondering the question, I wasn’t sure there would be a specific answer. Perhaps it wasn’t a sensible question. The question wasn’t about what fueled the process of defining our personal core values or exploring how those values integrate into the values of the organization where you choose to do your work.

This question centered on the spark plug of values … once they were defined. I kept coming back to one thing. Gratitude. It wasn’t about gratitude for a certain thing.

It was gratitude about everything.

I let my mind continue to wander and wonder from one edge of the porch to the other. A plethora of ideas came to mind. Generosity was one of them. Yet, even generosity, seemed to be born from a place of gratitude. There were many more … yet every idea pointed back to one idea. Gratitude.

In a recent conversation, with my long-time friend and personal business coach, Mark LeBlanc, it became even more clear. Mark had recently returned from walking the 500-mile El Camino from southern France through Spain … for the second time! In sharing from his insights along the El Camino, he focused me on what we choose to make a “way of life.”

A couple hours after our meeting, I was sitting at my desk continuing to think about this idea of a way of life. It was there this idea of gratitude resurfaced in my mind. The two thoughts collided. And it all made sense. It wasn’t just about a sense of gratitude … but about when gratitude becomes a way of life. This took me full circle back to the idea I’d started with … not gratitude about a certain thing, but gratitude about everything.

This way of life … is also the way of leadership. Gratitude is the spark plug. It’s what ignites our values once defined.

Gratitude brings sparkle to your values, your leadership and those you lead.

May this very day spark a way of life filled with gratitude. Come Thanksgiving Day, may you find yourself being thankful … for your way of gratitude!

Today’s post is the featured article from the October 2014 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.