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2 Steps to Powerful Appreciation this Christmas

Are you, like many leaders, wanting to express your gratitude to your team for the festivities and finding yourself lost for words? Follow this simple two-step process to penning a powerful personalised Christmas message to lead with love.

’Tis the season to be jolly, and leaders everywhere are buying gifts right now for their teams and colleagues as a ‘thank you’ for all of their efforts and support this year. 

In my work as a mindset and leadership coach, I work with many leaders who find themselves in patterns of impostering. Many of them, because of their own discomforts in receiving praise and an inability to internalise their own accomplishments, find it difficult to write and share that message that truly conveys their gratitude and appreciation. This comes in part from faulty belief systems that the leader often holds. Some worry that giving positive feedback can be interpreted as “blowing smoke”, or that instead of instilling confidence it supports arrogance. Some fear that it will be received as disingenuous or patronising.

This can lead to leaders experiencing a mental block when it comes to writing their Christmas card or note. They may find it taking up too much time and mental energy for them to find a breakthrough, and so opt in this busy season to keep it brief, hoping that the bottle of vino or the box of chocs will do all the talking. They make a quick dash and grab to the supermarket, purchase the goods and gift them, with a simple thanks for your hard work this year. 

Of course for many people food and a fancy tipple is a great way to their heart. But these leaders are missing a trick. For most people, the thoughts and words we share are far more powerful. A carefully crafted and personalised message speaks volumes to the receiver, helping them to feel truly valued, building trust, and creating the best environment for people to be their best and do their best work.

In two minds

It’s true that on a logical and rational level, the people we work with are mostly adults, they know what they’re signing up for when taking on a job, they know what’s expected and they get paid for do it. But if advances in neuroscience have taught us anything in the last 20 years, it’s that we have two thinking brains. One is logical, rational, purpose focused. It thinks with perspective using facts, truths and evidence. The other is emotional. It works using feelings and impressions. Its role is keep us safe and secure. It supports our emotional needs to feel valued, successful, secure and a sense of belonging. Without this, we lose motivation to go above and beyond the job description, and good will slowly erodes. It’s this part of the mind that we’re speaking to when sharing of messages gratitude and appreciation. Of course, great leaders know that these messages are well received at any time of year, yet the festive season provides a great opportunity to reflect and share what you see. 

Step 1… Search Your Heart

To provoke some thoughts and help you to craft your quality Crimbo message, don’t overthink it. Simply ask these five quick questions below, place your hand on your heart and write down what comes up for you on a piece of paper:

a* What one word or phrase describes them best?

b* What do you think has been their greatest achievement this year?

c* What do you believe is their greatest strength?

d* What do you value most about them?

e* What do you wish for them (for their own benefit) for 2020?

Step 2… Fill in the Blanks

The next step is to construct what you want to convey in a way that’s clear, kind and authentic to you. Here’s a simple example of a template you might use or adapt to structure your sentiments:

“[insert name],

Thank you for all your support in 2019, you’ve been [insert a].

A special congrats on [insert b] this year. Your [insert c] and [insert d] shines through.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and every [insert e] in 2020. 

Have a well deserved break. I look forward to working with you in the New Year!”

May you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, leading with love!

* A special thank you to Kim Morgan @ Barefoot Coaching for her inspiration around the questions (and more). 

Sabrina Francis

Sabrina Francis


I empower people and teams to grow their confidence and influence to lead with love and get the best out of themselves and others 💜✨ I do this by supporting them to overcome their fears and doubts, and develop the skills to match their mindsets and actions to their dreams and goals. I’m a compassionate and intuitive coach. I work with people from all walks of life, and in business, education, sport, health and fitness. I've a broad range of skills and experience in supporting people; starting early in my career as a teacher, a leader, then working alongside Consultant Psychiatrist and bestselling author Professor Steve Peters, as a Psychological Skills Mentor using ‘The Chimp Model’. Now a founder of Mind Set Match, I'm also an Associate Coach and Support Tutor for Barefoot, a leading coach training provider, helping others develop their coaching skills. I have a warm and approachable style. Creating a strong relationship and safe space to work together is essential. Ever mindful that we are each are unique, I’m open to exploring preferences and finding creative ways to help them get the most out of our time together. Many enjoy the space and time to think and to create action plans, and some like to integrate their mind and body experiences to generate mobility to make transformational change. I offer support and challenge in a range of ways to help people gain insights and develop their skills. *ICF ACC *Post Graduate Certificate in Personal and Business Coaching *Post Graduate Certificate in Education *BSc Sport & Exercise Science *Higher Education Certificate in Psychology

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