One of the best, most practiced traditions of Christmas is gift-giving. It drives consumerism and fuels the frenzy of “the holidays.” However, giving gifts is rooted in a more profound, more significant tradition, following the example of the wise men from the East visiting the Christ child thousands of years ago. The practice of giving generously might not be an original idea, but it carries with it many benefits and is a characteristic of strong leadership.
A leader who gives goes beyond giving an end-of-the-year bonus or box of fruit. Of course, those gifts are still appreciated, but generous giving is a practiced, year-round trait of great business leaders. There are many things to give and benefits to a leader when doing so.
Principled leadership, in a change leadership setting, delegates. This leader knows inspired, capable people are qualified to accomplish the needed tasks. When a leader has built a great team, it’s not up to the leader to achieve it all. A giving leader delegates worthwhile work and not just rote tasks or busy work. It’s a generous gift because with it comes growth and development for the employee. But it’s more than just a gift. It’s an investment.
A wise leader builds trust in the workplace by giving specific, life-giving words of encouragement. This requires a leader to slow down enough to recognize the deeper layer of effort and ingenuity an employee offers. A thoughtful leader not only sees it but also says something. A generous leader knows the power of encouraging words to the employee and the people around the employee. Influencing the opinions of the team bolsters the team’s overall performance.
Great leaders know the difference between feedback and criticism. Feedback is motivation to help improve the knowledge and skills of the worker, while criticism is fueled by the emotions and frustrations of the leader. Therefore, a generous leader picks considerate timing, words, and delivery of helpful and specific feedback instead of sweeping generalizations and blanket statements.
Other people’s abilities and talents don’t threaten a great leader. Not only is a great leader not threatened by them, but a great leader also utilizes and recognizes these traits audibly. A generous leader can give praise and encouragement lavishly because they are confident in their abilities—knowing where they start and stop. When a great leader knows where their talents end, they can praise where the skills of another begin.
With a growing shift in leadership being less “top-down” and managerial to more collaborative and idea-fueled, leaders can give the gift of visibility. Not only will a great leader be accessible to their people, not racing by, but sometimes stopping to chat, but a generous leader recognizes the work and abilities of employees to other senior leaders. In addition, a great leader creates trust and loyalty in employees by being generous with praise to influential people.
Someone might need a second chance, and a giving leader can give it. An unexpected hire might need a first chance, and a generous leader might see characteristics and talents no one else does. Creating the right circumstances and environment for success is up to the thoughtful leader.
Leadership not only recognizes the positive talents and strengths of their employees, but a leader also sees their weaknesses. A generous leader sees weakness and offers support, instead of criticism, to help the employee develop their weaknesses into strengths. This leader collects and invests in the tools needed to further the growth of their team; confident the investment is worth the cost.
A leader is usually in authority because of their hard work and leadership abilities. A great leader isn’t threatened to generously teach enriching leadership skills, best practices, and expertise to new hires, current team members, and other managers. Unique, mutual respect, and a true team mentality arise from a company whose leader is willing to serve by giving away their leadership secrets and wisdom.
There is a return on generous giving. Getting a return isn’t the motivation to give, but it’s the giver’s unexpected benefit by giving.
There is scientific evidence that giving makes you happy. For example, brain researchers can see blood flow that lights up the brain’s “happiness center” when generous giving occurs. This is a cycle that needs to continue.
Generous giving is good for your health. Studies show giving can reduce blood pressure and enhance sleep. Whether it’s measurable or not, we instinctively know giving is better than receiving because it creates good feelings of great joy.
There is power, and at times necessity, in anonymous giving. But, giving creates a social connection when people come together for a cause or get behind a common purpose. There can be a deep connection when people give together.
Generous giving is an act we want to repeat because it perpetuates and inspires more giving. Because of the happiness and good feelings it creates, it’s easy to generate interest and excitement that quickly spreads.
Generous giving naturally evokes gratitude because unexpected generosity is unusual. Likewise, surprise and curiosity naturally create thankfulness from the receiver because they understand the planning and sacrifice that went into the gift.
In a season where giving is everywhere, a bit of the magic of generosity is reduced because gifts are expected. Become a leader who gives generous, unexpected gifts all year long. This type of leader is rare but valuable and will build great teams and organizations.