3 Leadership Lessons on Generosity

A few weeks ago I had a few new friends move to Atlanta.

Plans had been made, boxes had been packed, loose ends were tied up, and a U-Haul truck had officially been loaded with everything they owned inside. Off they went to a new city.

They made their way here and found a nice little hotel to stay in overnight since their new home couldn’t accommodate them until the next day. They slept with excitement, knowing Atlanta was offering great opportunity for their future.

The next morning, however, they awoke to find their U-Haul truck had been stolen. Everything they owned was gone. Keepsakes lost. Heirlooms taken. All of their belongings taken from them.

After realizing the magnitude of what happened, shedding a few tears, contacting the police, and making a few calls to close friends, Adam and Kristina* were being forced to come to terms with losing all of their belongings in a rapid fashion. However, the friends (read: community) that stepped in to help them in this chaotic time knew exactly what needed to happen next in order for this couple (in a brand new city) feel helped, encouraged, and understood.

Generosity came to the rescue. Immediately phone calls were being made, fundraising pages were being set up, closets were being cleaned out, donations were given, and community was stepping in for someone who had a need. So many people, both friends and strangers, were being generous to this couple who had just lost everything.

I learned quite a few lessons during this process. I was participating in and witnessing a movement of sorts. I was gifted the opportunity to see generosity like I hadn’t quite experienced it before.

For me, any time I ever heard someone talk about being generous, I associated it with dollars. I always believed that in order to be generous, you had to have the means available to give financially to something or someone you believe in.

Now I know generosity is so much bigger than a financial contribution. I learned that generosity is a prerequisite to trust and friendship. And as an often overlooked indication of quality leadership, I learned that generosity plays a giant role in how I lead others.

I now plan on being a bit more generous with how I lead. Here’s what I’m working on practicing:

1| Be generous with who you are to the people you lead.

Leadership can be lonely. Lonely leaders are far more likely to give up, burn out, fail or succumb to a combination of all three. Why not do all you can to encourage other leaders by coming alongside them and reminding them they are not alone in the pressures they face, the teams they have to lead, the decisions they have to make, or the personal things they have to deal with on top of it all? Sometimes leadership means giving a piece of who you are so the people around you can learn from the story you have walked through.

2| Be generous with your resources to the people you lead.

Maybe it’s a large client they can’t land or a project someone dropped the ball on or simply a major personal crisis someone you work with is facing. No matter what it is, imagine the difference you can make for someone (and the trust you can establish) if you’re willing to have open hands with the knowledge you possess, the resources you have available to you, and/or the people you have in your network. Sometimes leadership means sharing your resources and relationship so the people you lead know you are on their team.

3| Be generous with your attention to the people you lead.

Ok, I KNOW you can’t give ALL your time to all the people on your team (especially if you have multiple employees), but you CAN give ample time to build trust with the people you closely advise day in and day out. If they know they are trusted, heard, validated, and known, they are more likely to provide a similar experience for those they advise. That means you have a great responsibility

Leadership, in it’s best form, IS generosity. It’s less about what you have to offer and far more about what you are willing to give. The business world could use a few more people who are willing to be generous with who they are, what they have, and what they pay attention to.

What is the hardest thing for you to be generous with?