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  • Writer's pictureNancy Dering Mock

The Generous Leader

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

When people think of generosity, they often think of philanthropy, or the giving of money. But in leadership, generosity pertains to sharing, perhaps not of money, but of equally valuable assets. Here is a short list of gifts that leaders can share with others:

1. Information Many people know that the hoarding of information, while seen as a source of power by the leader, is a drag on team performance. Instead of asking, "Why do my people need to know this?" a better question is, "Are there any good reasons right now they should not?"

2. Rationale It is helpful for competent, committed people to understand not only the "what," but the "why." As decisions (especially tough ones) are made, conflicts resolved or changes implemented, effective leaders share their rationale, explaining what went into their thinking.

3. Appreciation Leaders who are generous with thanks, praise and recognition inspire others to excel and achieve. The power of a sincere "thank you" cannot be overstated.

4. Time Now, things get harder. Time is such a precious commodity. But those leaders who invest time with their team, who listen, encourage and coach, see remarkable dividends.

5. Credit When a leader is recognized, or receives a tribute or honor, note how many times the recipient acknowledges their team. This reflects the regard and gratitude the leader has for members of the team.

6. Wisdom This is one of the greatest assets any leader can share. It may take the form of challenging a team member to higher performance. It may take the form of mentoring, of sharing wisdom gleaned from experience, not textbooks. It may be simply asking the kinds of questions that lead others to their own learning and wisdom.

Generous leaders share these valuable gifts with team members. They open their heads, hearts and hands to others, an ultimate act of leadership generosity.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. Have you worked with a leader who was generous? Describe the kinds of things he or she shared freely.

  2. Discuss the concept of "organizational wisdom." What does it entail? How do people get it? How do people share it?

  3. What is your reaction to framing the six assets above as "gifts" to team members?

  4. What are the implications for leaders? For you?

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