When people learn to think beyond themselves and are able to develop a generous approach towards those around them, a sense of collective energy is generated. This translates into the willingness to contribute to the ‘cause’, whatever this might be.
I recently appeared on Sky Business News to speak about what organisations must do to create a collaborative culture. Whilst we all love the idea of collaboration, it’s in short supply.
I was reminded of this as I left the Sky studios, walking past a wall of monitors recounting the latest mud-slinging antics of our wannabe leaders Turnbull and Shorten. In the last throes of the too-close-to-call 2016 election, collaboration was the last thing on display. And that’s a problem!
HOW generosity FITS IN OUR LEADERSHIP MODEL
Generosity is one of the 16 pillars of the . It sits within the competency of Collaboration. As I unpack in the 'Collaboration' post, the 4 pillars are:
Generosity is one of the most interesting pillars in the whole model I believe. You see it’s a word not typically associated with business, yet one that is so important in helping us to adapt to be both successful and happy in our VUCA world.
The 3 Elements of Generosity
Generosity refers to the kind disposition and altruistic manner that a person displays when dealing and interacting with others.
A Win-Win approach
This is a big shift. Since our early school days, we’ve been taught to aspire to individual success. ‘Getting ahead’ in business has traditionally implied beating colleagues and competitors. We must re-think this to achieve a more evolved output that draws on collective rather than individual talents and ideas.
Forward-thinking classrooms pilots are already exploring ways to do this better, some putting the ability for everyone to write computer code at the centre. As one teacher said in a Four Corners report for the ABC, "I believe that coding is the next layer of literacy and connection."
Thinking Beyond Self
We live in uncertain times. Ironically, it appears to take terrorist acts and natural disasters to bring out the best of us as a species. In extremis, we know to look after each other. We pitch in when storms batter our neighbourhoods and reach out across the globe in the face of suffering and sorrow.
The forces that are currently emerging in a poisonous Trump/Clinton US election, Brexit and an insipid Australian election result perhaps mark a time when we question the received wisdom of ‘the market’, greed and growth.
Encouragingly, there are many examples of businesses that are succeeding in part because they wholeheartedly embrace this idea - perhaps through support for community programmes or environmental initiatives.
Willingness to Help
Doing good things for others not only warms the heart, but also protects it. People who regularly volunteer are more likely to use and strengthen their empathetic and altruistic behaviours, as well as improving their own motivation and physical health (through better heart functioning and lower cholesterol levels).
I have volunteered for several years now. I serve as a surf lifesaver and, more recently, as a Telephone Crisis Support worker for Lifeline – an organisation in the front line of the fight to reduce the horrific and growing number of suicides in developed economies. I know there is a very tangible reflected benefit and I feel I get back far more than I give.
In a leadership context, taking the time to coach, listen or simply pay undivided attention to those around us can have a surprisingly significant affect. It’s easy to miss this simple truth in the rush to ‘get stuff done.’ As John Holmes once said:
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
Making Generosity Happen
Some simple strategies for developing your own generosity include:
- Organise a team-building activity
- Cook something for your colleagues or friends
- Hand-write a thank you note
- Volunteer for a local charity or organisation like Surf Lifesaving or Lifeline
- Truly acknowledge the contribution of others
Generosity then is under-regarded, yet highly effective. We all know how wonderful it feels to be on the receiving end of a gift, a thoughtful gesture or a kind word. We see it more often in our home lives than our world of work and I think we are missing a trick. Generosity is good for the sole and, counter-intuitively, the bottom line too.