How Generous Leadership Spurs Greater Productivity

Have you ever worked for a jerk? How about a boss you loved, respected, admired? Who did you perform better for?

We all do better work for someone we trust, admire, respect. And yet, if you took a poll of critical business skills, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a list that didn’t include vision, leadership, drive, ambition, or intellect. You’d be equally hard pressed to find one that included, much less led with, generosity. That generosity is important and valued isn’t news—but the #1 key to success? That’s not where it usually lands.

Generosity is more typically an afterthought, a by-product, a “nice-to-have” quality. If a manager or leader is generous, they’re probably well liked. But it’s more than that: generosity can make your career.

Generous people share information readily, share credit often and give of their time and expertise easily. What comes across is a strong work ethic, great communication skills, and a willingness and ability to collaborate. Generous bosses get 10x the productivity from their employees; generous employees’ stars rise in tandem with their bosses…

Here are 5 ways you can be generous and get ahead at work (& in life):

1. Make life easier or better.  Make people look smart in meetings, prep people before meetings, anticipate what might be need, provide as much value-add on projects and work towards the greater good. It will pay dividends.

2. Value time. When you share information, start with what is new, different or important. Don’t make people guess at your meaning; don’t take five minutes of time if people only have two minutes to spare.

3. Take ownership. A simple “we” instead of a “he” reminds everyone that life is a team sport. So is the workplace.

4. Share credit. People love to be told they’re doing a great job. Recognize people regularly for either a job well done or extraordinary effort. It doesn’t cost anything. Send an email out and mention the great work of your team (by name) or give them a shout out in the next staff meeting.

5. Mentor. Be gracious with your time and your expertise and contribute to the collective learning available to those around you. Don’t let all the brilliance you’ve gathered over the years go to waste. Your professional highs and lows are equally valuable to those just starting out in the workplace. Concede your mistakes, highlight your proud moments, give feedback and offer guidance. Take the time and interest to help develop your junior team and build up your bench.

What else do you do to be generous? Are you recognizing talent within your organization? Sharing information (instead of hording it), mentoring others…what are your strategies?