Leaders that folks want to follow are generous by nature. That doesn’t mean they give you money. That means that they have a giving spirit or a generous heart.
Generosity is a word with a historical meaning that is lost today. It once referred to one’s nobility of birth and the obligation toward those of lesser means and lower standing. There was a cultural expectation that leaders (nobility) would behave in certain ways that would demonstrate their worthiness.
But before we can identify the behaviors of a generous leader, we need to identify the motivations of a generous leader. Generous leaders are motivated by the success (whatever that looks like) of those around them. Generous leaders lead the way that they do because they place a high value on the overall success of those who follow them. On the other hand, leaders who are motivated by their own success tend to measure their achievements in terms of their compensation package, the power in their position, the status as compared to those in their peer group, and whatever recognition they can garner.
Generous leaders hold themselves to different standards. Generous leaders value their empowerment of others, their service to their organization, and their relationships with their followers.
Generous leaders give in ways that are not always measured in terms of dollars. They are generous on many levels. They usually are generous with their money. They are often the benefactors of many charitable or ministry organizations. And they are often the ones behind the anonymous gifts that their followers find at just the right time. But they are also generous with their time as well as their talents.
What does a generous leader look like?
Generous leaders share time – It is natural to try to guard your time when you are at a senior leadership level. But resist that temptation. Give of your time to those in your closest circle and with every concentric circle of leadership that goes out from you at the center. Time is the currency of true value. Just ask your child or your spouse this question: “Would you rather I stay at work and make some overtime, or would you rather I come home and eat dinner together as a family.” If they choose the money, your situation is dire indeed and you need to reexamine your most important leadership roles – spouse and parent.
Generous leaders share information – If knowledge is power, then you need to be generous and empower those around you with the information and knowledge that you possess. In fact, you may have learned something “the hard way” and want them to learn it that way also. But share the experience and what you have learned anyway. Doing so may provide a shortcut through a heartbreaking experience for someone willing to listen.
Generous leaders share opportunities – Don’t just delegate the grunt work. Generous leaders share real opportunities for their followers to shine and share some of the spotlight. Most leaders are afraid of delegating because they give up some control. Remember that the key role of a leader is to create more leaders and not more followers. And opportunities are what young leaders need in order to grow.
What about you?
Here is what we see from generous leaders. We can see that they are never content to do just enough to get by. Rather, they look every day for ways to do more than the minimum. That is because their generosity is built into their inner being. It is not something they do. It is something they are. They have discovered that being generous and sharing what they know and who they are is not just beneficial for their followers – it’s beneficial for their business.