Bragging moment! My first grandson, Arthur Dennis, arrived this past Saturday and it was the most beautiful labor of love by his momma and dad, the nurses, doctors the CNA, food staff, and anesthesiologist.
Each person generously shared their gifts. My daughter selflessly labored to bring this new little human into the world. Her care team’s genuine care and concern for my daughter, son-in-law and grandson ensured they felt completely supported was a testament to the human spirit – and doing something you truly love that makes a difference for someone else.
I am inspired by Dictonary.com’s definition of “labor of love”: work done for the sake of one's own enjoyment or of benefit to others rather than for material rewards. And I think it directly ties to a leadership attribute we’ve been writing and teaching about for years that has come to the forefront in recent months – generosity.
Generous leadership is the foundation of great team cultures, exceptional client experiences, loyalty and followership. That is what is possible in any organization whose leaders operate from generosity and faith that that it will all work out for the good in the end. Too often, I see leaders over-focus on what’s in it for them, trying to control and micro-manage activities and outcomes for fear they will not get their just reward. Unfortunately, when leaders behave this way, they manifest what they fear – less reward, more churn and difficulty accomplishing their goal, less loyalty and teamwork, and ultimately less joy from the work.
Instead, generous leaders start with their passion and what they want to manifest in the world. My daughter and her husband wanted a baby. She had not been pregnant before and there were many unknowns to navigate and learning that occurred along the way – and more learning to happen, as all parents can attest to. It’s a journey of trust, faith, and love.
None of us have led in this era, in this economy or market, or with all of these circumstances and many unknowns. That doesn’t mean we move forward blindly, or without education and learning, or without benefit of the best resources possible. It does mean trusting the journey and working towards the agreed-upon end game and worrying less about managing how every little detail should look every step of the way. Too many leaders get caught up in the minutia instead of keeping their focus on where they’re headed. When you define where you’re going, share it with your team, and collaborate, the “how” becomes clearer and easier. Simon Sinek summarizes this nicely, “The courage of leadership is giving others a chance to succeed even though you bear the responsibility for getting things done.”
So, what does generosity look like? Leaders demonstrate generosity by:
- Operating from trusting first, assuming positive intentions and faith
- Sharing knowledge, relationships, and information
- Expressing appreciation and gratitude freely
- Asking frequently, “How can I help?”
- Giving time to listen, teach, provide feedback and support
- Empowering others and helping them to elevate and be the best they can be, which often means giving up responsibilities, projects, or clients to develop others and get them involved
- Cultivating each team members’ unique “labor of love,” whether it’s:
- Mentoring and people development
- Process improvement
- Technology enablement
- Business development
- Or something else
- Sharing in the financial rewards through merit increases, bonuses, promotions and recognizing a job well done and others’ contributions
Where can you be more generous? What is your expressed labor of love and how can you enable others? We’d love to hear about your journey!