“Generosity consists not the sum given, but the manner in which it is bestowed”
- Mahatma Gandhi

Archive for October, 2016

Why Great Leaders Are Generous Leaders

October 31st, 2016

It is all too easy to get caught up in the world of ‘not enoughness’. In an age where we are constantly being told that we need more, should aim for more, deliver more, earn more and want more is it any wonder that not having enough, doing enough or being enough is one of our greatest social cripplers and fears.

One of the biggest issues of this feeling of ‘not-enoughness’ is how it can impact the way in which you view your capacity to give and contribute. When you focus on what you don’t have it can have a paralyzing effect. Not only can you find yourself living in the interim moment – I am here, but when I am there I will be in a far better position to give more and do more – but you can also easily fall into the trap that there won’t be enough to go round so I best hold on tightly to what I do have.

So why is it that so often it is those that seem to have so little that seem to give so much? Recent studies by post doctorate students at UC Berkeley suggest that those who give more are not focused on what they can give ie/ sum or amount but on the connection that can be established through the act of giving. The researchers found that those who had less but gave more recognized the sense of community that was built through their contribution and the subsequent feeling of shared strength and empowerment that came from the act of giving. Essentially the focus was not on what was being given away but on what was being generated and gained through acts of generosity.

As leaders and managers of our own careers, teams and businesses we all face the issue of having to do more with less. There never seems to be enough time, resources or skillsets to deliver what is needed. However if you aren’t careful your can very easily find yourself operating through a scarcity lens which can sabotage both your success and your progress.

People with a scarcity mentality tend to see the world (including the workplace) in terms of win-lose. Whilst it often is not about being malicious it manifests in negative workplace cultures and individual outlooks. People with this mindset typically hold onto knowledge, resources, people and staff with a tight reign. They find it difficult to share recognition, power or profit. They keep things close and small because they can control or influence situations with ease.

Interestingly though when you give generously of your own time, resources and skills you seem to gain more in return – the circle seems to complete itself with a greater sense of energy, capability and power. Firstly generosity seems to breed generosity. As many of us will have experienced, leaders and colleagues who have given generously and contributed to our own careers feel a greater sense of ‘pay it forward’ because we know the impact that it can have. When we have a team that recognizes this, not only are individual capabilities leveraged but also loyalty, engagement and productivity are greatly enhanced.

Generous leaders view the world through a lens of abundance where much is to be gained rather than lost. This does not mean that they are simply available 24/7 and act in a ‘fairy godmother’ manner granting wishes to all who ask. Rather they place great value in genuinely connecting with their team and understanding how best to maximise and align individual talents, knowledge and skillsets. They value fit and healthy workplace cultures that deliver exceptional results and work hard to build and protect them.

Generous leaders recognize the power of investing and do so through deliberate and purposeful action. They are genuinely happy for the successes, well-being, achievements and recognition of other people. They give of their own time, knowledge and networks to help others and contribute to their success because in doing so they believe they can all – both individually and collectively – achieve more. They are comfortable in letting go and are connected enough to their team to recognize who and how to let go to in order to achieve what is required.

In thinking about your own workplaces, businesses and teams I would encourage you to think about how you can lead from a spirit of generosity. As leaders and influencers in our communities and workplaces we all have the ability to act generously and inspire it in others… not only is it a mindset it is a choice and one that we can choose to act on daily.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts.

Understanding The Power of ‘Yet’

October 18th, 2016

Most of us will acknowledge that we live in an ‘instant age’. Our access to information, resources and networks be it for personal or professional purposes has never been more easily or readily available. Quick Google searches provide answers in mere seconds often speeding up our abilities to make decisions and take actions; online shopping can see us in a new outfit the next day or deliver us dinner faster than we can cook it; and with the click of a button we can now connect and engage with community forums anywhere in the world on any topic we like.

But is this ‘world of instant’, creating unrealistic expectations that at times impede our growth, limit opportunities and cause us to lose rather than gain perspective? Are we now always looking for and expecting instant results, instant knowledge and skills, or instant rapport in relationships that in reality all still require some good old-fashioned hard work, problem solving, time and investment? Does the lack of instant success prevent us from exploring longer-term benefits by always defaulting to what is only achievable now or is ‘safe’ from failure?

Carol Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, conducted years of research about why people succeed or fail and how what she terms the fixed or growth mindset impacts the outcomes. Her TED talk, The Power Of Believing That You Can Improve provides a powerful insight into this concept and in it explains the ‘power of yet’. She begins her talk by describing her work with 10-year children and how they coped with learning challenges. In giving them problems that were slightly too hard for them, two distinct responses emerged. Some reacted in what she termed a ‘shockingly positive way’ adopting a mindset that saw them embrace the challenge, recognizing in the learning process regardless of whether or not the outcome was successful. The second group (those with a fixed mindset) felt it was a tragic, catastrophic scenario feeling that they had been set up for judgment and failure. Essentially they found that those with a fixed mindset will reject learning if it means not failing – and will often resort to cheating or finding those who have performed worse than they did in order to feel better about themselves. Those with a fixed mindset were ‘gripped in ‘the tyranny of now,’ where as those with a growth mindset were able to recognize and embrace the power of ‘not yet’.

Given that most of us acknowledge that we should never stop learning, how we embrace the growth mindset and apply it to our careers and lives is critical. Not only does it underpin our potential but also our future opportunities. Whilst it is important to recognize our innate talents and play to our strengths, it will be our abilities to embrace ongoing development; collaborate with and seek out new ideas from others; and invest in the learning process to solve problems with no guarantee of immediate success that will see us well positioned for the future. As Dweck’s studies found, it was these individuals that tended to achieve greater levels of success in both their personal and professional lives because they were less worried about looking smart and more focused on becoming smart.

As we continue to face rapid rates of change to the way we live and work, it will be our ability to embrace opportunities and learning in environments that are rich in volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity that will see us succeed. With new industries rapidly emerging and old ones being disrupted; demands for greater flexibility and diversity in the ways that we work; and a requirement to operate in a much more globalized market we actually can’t afford to not adopt a growth mindset. To do so sees us risk relevance, opportunity and future success.

So what are the keys to building growth mindsets in our organisations and the people we lead? I would encourage you to consider the following 6 tips:

  1. Cultivate purpose: When we truly know why we are doing what we do, we are able to focus on the longer-term gains and develop greater levels of perseverance, commitment and engagement.
  2. Reward actions not traits: When we acknowledge the action taken we are more likely to see it repeated and develop patterns for success.
  3. Stop seeking approval: When we constantly prioritise approval over learning we sacrifice potential for growth.
  4. Separate improvement from failure: All too often we associate ‘room for improvement’ as failure. Rather we need to embrace it as opportunity.
  5. Embrace the power of reflection: Taking moments to understand what worked or didn’t work allows us to replicate or adjust our actions accordingly.
  6. Adopt the word ‘yet’: In acknowledging that we may not have mastered a skill or solved a problem just ‘yet’ removes the notion of having failed and reinforces that success still lies ahead.

As leaders need to accept that we don’t build a career or a business in one, two or even three years. It is a long-term game, that requires unnerving focus on your own ‘big picture’, a preparedness to make and learn from mistakes, a willingness to acknowledge that you may not be there just yet!

How are you cultivating this growth mindset for yourself and the people you lead?

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

If you would like to explore ways to develop a growth mindset for yourself or the team you lead, please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

The Power Of Leadership Generosity

October 4th, 2016

All too often when we think of generosity we think of financial giving or involvement in charitable work. We don’t naturally think of it in terms of business dealings or in what we do in our day-to-day jobs. Typically it is equated with what we do outside of business hours rather than what we do in them. What charities, community projects or family & friend endeavours we choose to give to financially or with our time.

Make no mistake these endeavours are all noble and worthy acts of generosity and ones that we should seek out. However overlooking the ways we can give generously through what we do and how we lead is not only a missed opportunity to leave our world in a better place but can be self limiting to our own levels of fulfilment and future growth as well as to those in our teams.

Whilst true generosity is ultimately an altruistic act we more often than not receive things in return – and often abundantly. As leaders this could transpire in the form of increased cooperation and collaboration, enjoyment in what we do, sheer goodwill and/or the fulfilment of seeing others succeed. Not to mention increased productivity and profitability.

If you were to take a moment to reflect on the colleagues and leaders who have left a positive mark on you and your career there would invariably be a common trait: Generosity of spirit. They are the people who gave freely of their time, knowledge and trust and who helped facilitate opportunities for you.

Adam Grant, author of the best selling book Give and Take looks at how and why our success today is increasingly dependent on the interactions we have with others. In essence he flips the notion that it is successful people that tend to give generously, to the idea that it is those with a generous spirit who become successful. He believes that in a work environment there are three ways people generally operate: taking, matching or giving. Whilst takers seek to get as much as possible form others and matchers focus on trading evenly, givers are those rare people who genuinely contribute without expectation of receiving anything in return. His research shows that whilst some givers do occasionally burn out they are the group that are most likely to achieve extraordinary results regardless of what field they operate in.

Successful leaders are generous: they give freely and unreservedly and often. In reflecting upon some of the amazing leaders that I have either worked for or with there are some other common acts of generosity. They all:

  1. Give Opportunity: Opportunities to engage in meaningful challenging work and not just a list of tasks. Opportunities that extend and open up new thinking & learning, new networks and offer lasting impact.
  2. Give A Strong Sense of Belonging: They create environments that are safe and supportive, allowing us to bring our whole sense of self to the office and not just our work mask. They help you see the value in what you do and feel an intrinsic part of the team and organisation’s success.
  3. Give Guidance: Generous leaders seek to guide and not control. They offer constructive feedback rather than criticism and empower you to make decisions with strong frameworks of support.
  4. Give Space: Space to explore, create, grow, fail and make mistakes and most importantly to get back up confidently and go again.
  5. Give Information, Knowledge & Experience: Not only do generous leaders offer their insights they encourage others to do so as well. They understand that increased leverage and success comes with purposeful collaboration and open, willing minds not but holding tightly onto things.
  6. Give Credit: By recognising and appreciating the efforts of others the generous leader helps to create as sense of shared success. They understand the power of ‘We’ is much more powerful than ‘I’.
  7. Give Encouragement: Generous leaders encourage you to step out and try different things, take risks and push the boundaries of what you think you are capable of. They offer faith in you and push you to be the best you can be.
  8. Give Trust: Generous leaders understand that high performing cultures are rich in trust. Trust amongst each other, in each other’s talents, capabilities and values.
  9. Give Time and Energy: Generous leaders understand the importance of really listening and engaging. They offer their time, their total attention and interest in you, what you are doing and the outcomes you seek.
  10. Give Time Back To Themselves: The generous leader works hard to ensure that their batteries remain charged so as to enable them to give on an ongoing basis. They invest in time and energy in what reinvigorates them in mind, body and spirit.

Giving generously tends to inspire others to do the same. It also helps us create a lasting legacy for what we do, the people we work with and the businesses we have or work for. I would encourage you to explore how you can give generously through your leadership and inspire others to continue to ‘pay it forward’.

As always I would love to hear your thoughts below.

If you would like to explore ways to build confidence, clarity and choice in your career please contact Margot on 0400 336 318.

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