Tis the season to be…

..Generous. I think this is one of the reasons why the festive season is considered that most wonderful time of the year.

So, what does any of that have to do with leadership? Well, I wanted to use that festive and generous theme to highlight a few traits I’ve observed in great leaders I’ve been fortunate to work with:

  • Be generous with your time – this doesn’t mean spending every waking moment with every member of your team. That’s obviously not possible or sustainable. Your time is finite, and it’s also precious. But it’s not so precious that you can’t simply say hi, ask some questions, check in with each team member on a personal level. I’ve been blown away when someone in a senior leadership position – who is way busier than me – simply takes some time to acknowledge me, ask some simple questions and shows some interest. Be genuine and unhurried.
  • Be generous with your expectations – assume positive intent. I just think this is a good way to approach most situations. It can really help to see things from another person’s point of view. Looking at the converse, a great quote I’ve heard is that if you stare at the cracks long, hard and closely enough all you will see are chasms. So do the opposite, assume the best, seek a positive (possibly win-win) outcome and look for evidence for anything to the contrary. Your team will thrive in and enjoy this sort of environment. If you don’t believe me you can read about Project Aristotle [https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html] or if you only have a minute, listen to Jim Jeffries [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO2LAVbc6o4].
  • Be generous with your position – great leaders don’t see authority as a right, they assume it as a privilege. The epitome of this is assuming the servant leader [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership] role. Note, that doesn’t mean being a doormat; you still need to lead. 
  • Be generous with acknowledgements – positively reinforce your team. Celebrate with them. Value them. Appreciate them. And when correction is needed, don’t ignore it, but be kind with it.
  • Be generous with your counsel – you have a unique set of skills, knowledge and experience that no-one else can possibly have. Spread what you know. Help others learn from your mistakes. Help those in your team grow in the same way as others have helped you grow.
  • Be generous to yourself – make sure you remain kind to yourself – appreciate yourself and celebrate the wins. While being generous with your time, you need to give yourself time too. Recognise you will make mistakes (you are human) so don’t waste time beating yourself up – instead acknowledge, work out what you need to learn, adapt and move forward.

I’ve long believed that in general generosity leads to more generosity (there are parallels in financial markets). Tis the season to be but it doesn’t need to be the only season to be.

I know the lyrics of “Deck the Halls” are to “’Tis the season to be jolly” but (without imbibing), how can you be jolly or happy? It turns out that research shows being generous brings about happiness (which is probably obvious to most). [https://time.com/4857777/generosity-happiness-brain/]