Leaders are responsible for creating an environment in which their people can flourish. The most effective way to do this is through the leader’s personal example: as others duplicate his actions, norms for behavior and performance expectations create a culture specific to the organization.
One key area in which a leader must be intentional about establishing the correct culture is that of generosity. Many leaders are driven to accomplish great things, to achieve high pinnacles of success and gain respect from friend and foe alike. But the best leaders are those who are concerned not only with their income but even more with their impact.
In our book Launching a Leadership Revolution, Orrin Woodward and I discuss three levels of motivation. The first level is material gain and the trappings of success. The second level, a bit deeper and more powerful, is respect and recognition. The third and deepest level is cause, purpose, significance and leaving a legacy.
It is this third level that separates the great leaders from the rest, because it consists of the motivations that have sufficient power to propel leaders through the worst kinds of resistance and obstacles. It is also the level at which contribution to others is most prominent.
Generosity among strong and powerful leaders is not as common as one might wish. Pragmatism is more prevalent, meaning that acts of giving and service are considered only if they promise to produce a return to the giver.
As a leader strives to establish the desired culture in his organization, sincere acts of giving and generosity are essential to opening the hearts of others. Being motivated by the deepest levels of cause and purpose make this easier to do.
As long as a leader remembers the deepest and most meaningful reasons for doing what he does, service to others and giving come naturally. This visible but humble example of giving money, time and love to worthy causes will propagate throughout the organization.
Once it is established that the accepted norms involve giving back from the fount of one’s blessings, the concept becomes contagious. It will create a common bond that unites people and deepens their commitment to the work at hand, because they can see how the organization is making a tangible difference. Giving can happen at every level and therefore includes many people who may otherwise feel marginalized or too small to make a difference.
Giving and generosity are powerful bonding agents that strengthen the commitment of a community to higher ideals. Heartfelt and consistent giving, established by the example of the leaders, increases the overall belief in the significance of the organization and its ability to affect change. All these are marvelous results that accompany the effect giving makes in the lives of its recipients.
CHRIS BRADY is co-author of the NY Times,
Business Weekly, USA Today, and Money Magazine best-seller,
Launching a Leadership Revolution. He is an avid motorized
adventurer, private pilot, world traveler, community
builder, author, speaker, humorist, historian, sports fan,
and consummate rascal. He and his wife Terri have
four kids and live in Florida and Michigan.