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Generous Leaders Build Great Teams

"Generosity is one of the most important ways to set an example as a leader in any organization."

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. Before you object too strenuously and remind me of some idiosyncratic genius, keep in mind that each of these people built on the work of someone else, even if they produced art or ideas that seemed novel.

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. You're going to hear a lot about giving during the month of December. Some of it is crass commercialism designed to do nothing but separate you from your cash. But if you look a little past the veneer of commercialism you'll also see encouraging examples of generosity.

We all have the opportunity to encourage creative communities of generosity. This is especially true if you're in a position of leadership. In her book, Leading So People Will Follow, Erika Andersen writes, "A leader who is generous with information, power, and well-deserved compliments empowers workers. The atmosphere created helps motivate them to do more for the company and for each other." She goes on to offer five behaviors leaders can cultivate to foster a spirit of generosity in their culture. Here's her list, along with a few of my own thoughts in italics.

  1. Assume positive intent. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Always start by assuming the best about them.

  2. Share power and authority. This goes beyond assigning or delegating tasks. Your team will thrive and your organization will grow when it is no longer tethered to you as the sole authority.

  3. Share what you know. I would add, resist the temptation to be the one who is the wisest person on your team. Be willing to let others share what they know with you.

  4. Freely give credit, praise, and reward. Be proactive in looking for ways to affirm the work of your team members.

  5. Provide the resources necessary to succeed. You ask your team to be committed to you and your organization. What commitments will you make to them?

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