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  • Teresa Carey

A Core Virtue Found in Extraordinary Leaders

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Are year-end deadlines and the frenzy of the season leaving you fatigued? Do you want to enjoy the holidays more, yet you aren’t sure how to forgo the festivities that fill your calendar? Is it time you embraced more things that bring fulfillment in closing out 2022?

There’s an answer. The one virtue that can bring more happiness, higher performance and overall well-being for yourself and others is generosity.

What exactly makes someone a generous leader?

Simply put, generosity is the virtue of giving freely and abundantly without the expectation of reciprocity (Notre Dame, Science of Generosity Project). If kindness is the standard, generosity is the summit. To be generous, you don’t have to impact the organizational or personal budget. This isn’t about providing unprecedented raises or bonuses.

Generous, no-cost behaviors can include:

  • Delegation – Give the gift of growth and stretching. Even if it’s one of your favorite projects to oversee or champion, give it away. Generous leaders let go so others can reach their potential.

  • Communication – Managers and team members rate access to information as one of the most important things they want from their leaders. Instead of holding back on providing updates, progress or plans, generous leaders are open and tend to over-communicate.

  • Ideation – Allow others the ability to share openly and freely so they know their voices are heard and respected. Leaders who understand the importance of creating the time and space for their teams to ideate, create and share their ideas, with a “no shame” method of disagreement, are generous and gracious givers.

  • Appreciation – Being present and letting others know they are the most important thing in your world while with them is a long-forgotten practice. Remove all distractions, listen and stay in the moment. Appreciation shown through the act of positive feedback promotes positive behavior. It costs nothing – yet is transforming.

Are generous leaders more effective?

Being an authentic generous leader can make you a great leader. It generates a growth mindset throughout the organization if it’s real. In her book, Leading So People Will Follow, Erica Anderson promotes positive intent as a key part of generosity because it increases trust from others. When you feel more trustworthy, confident, and secure, it’s easier to share resources like time, power, and information.

However, a single or a few isolated acts of giving don’t qualify you as a generous leader. Generosity isn’t what you do. It’s who you are. As we’re reminded by the famous author Walt Whitman, “Giving is like building a muscle. It requires practice and persistence, yet once it becomes habitual, you’ll emerge as a stronger leader.”

During this season and leading into 2023, what commitment will you make to practice and consistently model generosity in a bigger and bolder way than ever before? When you do, watch what happens. The world within you and around you will be transformed into a more hopeful, happier and healthier place.

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