In the book The Leadership Style of Jesus: Making a Lasting Impact by Michael Youssef, one of the chapters looks at the generosity of a leader. Youssef writes, “Great leaders who follow the leadership style of Jesus are generous with their resources, their time, their wisdom, and their insight. They give as Jesus gave, expecting nothing in return.” One of the principles the author lists is: Authentic leaders give generously.
This got me to thinking about ways in which good leaders are generous. There are any number of ways that we could think of, but here are seven that I would like to highlight:
- Good leaders are generous with their talents. Leaders, especially those who want to lead like Jesus, recognize that the talents they have were given to them as a gift from God, and want to share them with others. As a result, they look for opportunities to be generous with their talents. Some leaders will serve on the leadership team or board of a professional organization. Others may choose to serve on a local school board or use their talents in a volunteer position within their community.
- Good leaders are generous with their feedback, rather than criticism. A good leader will cast a compelling vision and set clear expectations for their teams. As the work moves forward, there will be times when constructive feedback will have to be given. A good leader will communicate the feedback privately in a helpful manner that is clear and understandable, so that the employee understands what was done wrong, and they can learn from the mistake and grow from it. The team member should leave the encounter knowing that their leader still supports them and sees them as a valuable member of the team.
- Good leaders are generous in giving credit where it is due and celebrating successes. Similar to the above point, good leaders will be generous in providing positive feedback that is specific and timely. The leader will make a point of publicly recognizing good performance and celebrating successes accomplished by both individuals and the team.
- Good leaders are generous with their time. Good leaders are available to their team members when the team members need them, even if it is before or after their regular work hours. They put their team members’ needs ahead of their own. They are visible and walk through the work area on a regular basis (if possible).
- Good leaders are generous in the trust they extend to others. I always told new team members that I started with trust, and it was up to them to lose my trust. I know not all leaders operate in that manner. Some leaders feel that their team members have to earn their trust, but I think starting with trust is a better way.
- Good leaders are generous in the development and growth experiences they provide for their team members. Good leaders get joy when their team members grow, develop and move on to even better assignments. This was modeled to me by Mel, one of my first leaders. Good leaders take pleasure in their team members achieving even more success than they did.
- Good leaders are generous in sharing their skills, knowledge and experiences through mentoring. Mentoring is something that I took a good deal of pleasure in. I never turned anyone down who asked to be in a mentoring relationship with me, and always learned from the person I was mentoring. My goal was always to try to add value to the person I was mentoring.
Near the end of my career I saw this point demonstrated by Henry, a senior leader in our organization. Though very busy with his own work, Henry organized regular learning events for leaders. These events were attended by dozens of leaders and were something I always looked forward to.
Generosity is a valuable trait for a leader to possess. I’ve listed just seven ways in which good leaders demonstrate generosity, though there are many more. What would you add to this list?