Leadership Skills Essentials: Generosity

I picked up a book called Never Eat Alone, by Keith Ferrazzi, wanting some tips on growing my network and doing so effectively. The book was great, and not surprisingly, like so many other books on building connections (aka Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People) the key lesson is this: be generous and interested, and you will stand-out from the crowd.

As the author says, “It’s better to give before you receive. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.”

One of the principles I teach as part of my leadership trainings is a principle called receiving. The secret to this principle? Give and you shall receive! Leaders that are first concerned about the well being of their team, and community, will always have plenty coming back. It is an in-built function of the human brain that we want to give back to those that give generously to us. And, you will never be a door mat when you master this skill because you will also learn that there are different ways to give, and some are effective, while others are not.

To be generous, you want to first get clear that the pay back (the return on your investment of time and other resources) may not be returned to you from the same person. I often experience that my open generosity is like a transparent currency. I give this currency, and it changes hands a few times, and then eventually it comes back, often doubled in strength and size, from a completely unexpected source. Second, your generosity should feel instantly good to you. Yes! Even though you are giving, you must feel a genuine satisfaction in the process. I get giggly when I get to connect individuals who I know will develop a great working relationship. I feel better giving that opportunity to others, then receiving it myself. So, your giving should match your style, and should make you feel abundant.

Think about this.

If you have so much , such that you can give some of IT (whatever that IT is) away, then you have abundance in your life.

When I coach clients to approach a networking experience by simply being open, curious, and GENEROUS, they experience an instant shift in mindset. They understand that they are not trying to sell, or get something from others – they are there to enjoy each other’s company. Keith Ferrazzi has some great tips, on how to focus on certain people and how to effectively spend your time in conferences, networking events, and even on-line, on social-media. But the bottom line is this, he says “Experience will not save you in hard times, nor will hard work or talent. If you need a job, money, advice, help, hope, or a means to make a sale, there’s only one surefire, fail-safe place to find it—within your extended circle of friends and associates.”

I have built my coaching career starting with my close network, that has, since then, extended out many degrees. When I coach executives that are looking to shift gears, either starting their own businesses, or moving to another organization, I remind them that their best tool, in the toolkit box, is their existing network of friends, family and colleagues (old and new). For this reason, great leaders are always investing a significant amount of time to creating stronger relationships. You never know who will be at the top of an organization tomorrow, and who will be your needed support in the future. Everyone you encounter can benefit from this encounter if you follow this simple 3-steps:

  1. Listen: listen more than you speak! Dale Carnegie said decades ago, and this still holds true, make other people feel important and they will remember you forever. Listening is the surest way of making others feel respected and appreciated.
  2. Give: in your conversation, focus on this question: How can I support this person’s goals? Whether work-related or personally, if you have done a good job listening, you will know one or more ways you can support this person. It may be a simple introduction, sending them an article, book or other resource, or teaching them a skill. No matter in what ways the giving comes, you will find plenty of opportunities to activate this principle of receiving!
  3. Connect: to connect deeply, you want to allow yourself to be vulnerable. When you open up about your own fears, failures and personal anecdotes, the person you are speaking to will find something in you that they personally relate. This commonality, what makes us all humans after all, is the gateway to fostering trusting and lasting connections!

To lead with great success, you must master your generosity skill-set. Start today: who can benefit from your time, knowledge, money, connections?

Give freely, and you will find that the return comes in two amazing ways: how great you feel in the process of giving, and how great you feel in the process of receiving back!