Basking in the sunlight is not only done by cats; it is an essential part of human nature, and human health too. As we approach the winter solstice, sunlight is relatively scarce. We soak it up whenever we can. Besides providing us with a boost of emotional energy, it triggers crucial vitamin D production; and scientists report here that it may help to reduce blood pressure, cut the risk of heart attack and stroke – and prolong life.

We also know of the negative effects too much sun exposure can have on us.

Besides sunlight, Human nature also craves attention and praise. These are not determined by the seasons, the tilt of the planet, or position of our orbit. Each of us goes through highs and lows on our own pace. When the ‘big deal’ doesn’t go through; a meeting is cancelled; a quota or goal is not met; etc.; we look to others – leaders – to help supply us with a little sunshine.

Here are some ways leaders of all sorts can provide a little sunshine before a lot is needed:

1) Smile: Not only do muscles in the face make you smile, but your attitude towards things impacts those muscles.

2) Give compliments: They cost nothing, yet are incredibly valuable. Catch people doing things right (or close to right). Sincerity is always best.

3) Notice the new things: Comment on new shoes, bags, haircuts, clothes, whatever. Even if you don’t like the style for yourself, simply conversing about it shows that you are paying attention to them. If it does suit your style, or look good on them, refer to #2.

4) Keep a Praise File: when I started in business, I kept a record of written compliments, , testimonials, thank you notes, and awards that I received. It means so much more when you see such words in a physical form – they have a sense of permanence.

5) Record successes: A powerful activity is to make a list of 100 successes. Learning to walk, talk, go off the high dive, ride a bike, etc. Each of these feats requires us to overcome a slew of challenges and help us develop into who we are today. Though our challenges might get bigger as life progresses, but the pattern is remarkably similar.

Great leadership is about helping people grow. And we all need steady amounts of sunshine to grow.