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Great Leaders are Confident . . . and Generous

"If you're scared, if you're nervous, if you think you're a fraud, you won't be generous."


I recently read an interview about leadership, confidence and generosity. I don't know that I've ever used those three words in the same sentence before. I will from now on though. In the interview, Susan Credle, chief creative officer with global advertising firm FCB, described her "first day" speech with a new company. On that first day she said:

"You are not competing with each other in here. If you think you win when your idea wins out over your neighbor's, that's a pretty small gain. In fact, I would suggest that you help your neighbor's ideas get better. I would suggest that if you look at something and you have a better idea, that you generously give that idea to someone and make them better. Because if we all do that, we all win. The minute you're the only good thing at this company, we're done. So can you do it? Can you be that generous?"

Great question. Right? Can you do it? Can you be that generous? What would the impact be in your family or some organization where you volunteer? What about your business? What would generosity look like for you? What would make the most impact on the people you work with or the people you lead? Here are three areas where you might begin.

  • Be generous with your ideas. I think about creativity a lot but I only recently connected it to generosity. Creativity depends on ideas and seldom does anyone have great ideas without input from others. Great ideas come through community and communities are all enriched through generosity. This is true whether we're talking about a family, school, volunteer organization or a business.

  • Be generous with your time. Few gifts are as valuable as the gift of time. Every other gift can be recouped in some way but time, once given is gone. Or, better yet, once given is invested in the life of another person.

  • Be generous with your praise. Genuine praise has incredible power. The key is for it to be sincere, well-deserved, and, when appropriate, expressed publicly. One of my mentors once said, "A person can live without a raise more than they can live without praise." (I know what you're thinking - both would be nice!) When you're in a position of influence look for ways to encourage your team with positive praise for their efforts.

It seems only natural to think of generosity as we approach Christmas. Those are three gifts that are worth giving . . . and receiving. So, can you do it? Can you be that generous?

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