Why Great Leaders Are Generous Leaders

October 31, 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.