Leadership: Giving More than you take

When I ask people what qualities make a leader great, I often hear visionary, inspirational and decisive. It’s also common to describe great leaders as servants, people who consistently put the needs of others before self. I hardly hear them described as generous or giving. Yet, these characteristics are as vital to leadership success as any other. I am fascinated by generous people. I have noticed repeatedly how their heart opens to the needs of others in the blink of an eye. They respond swiftly with advice, roll up their shelves to help and even donate money or material items freely. They lean into the moment because generosity is as much their purpose as their identity.

It was Zig Ziglar who said “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” I believe this is a motto for many leaders who highly value giving. Their joy is investing in the success of others. Their aim is to give often and give more than they take.

To understand this philosophy, let’s explore leadership through the lenses of women who model generosity.

A Biblical Principle First

According to Lisa Howze, Founder of The Lisa Howze Experience, giving is a Biblical principle. She explains that “we are asked to give of our time, talent and treasure. When I give in each of these areas, the rewards that I reap are often times immeasurable.

I once heard it said, if you want to be seen, you may as well be seen giving.”

Howze believes leaders can give in multiple ways including advice, advocacy and access to opportunities. They may also speak out against injustices and increase one’s awareness as methods of creating a strong egacy. “I believe a leader’s gift to this world has to outlast their own physical existence,” said Howze, “Legacy is the gift that keeps on giving.

For Howze that legacy is being courageous even when it goes against the status-quo. “After weighing the options, including input from others, that leader must pursue choices that serve the greater good, no matter the personal sacrifice,” she shared.

Also, a Sacrificial Lifestyle

Reflecting on why leadership is more give than take, Jania Massey, founder of JSM Consulting, says leadership is a sacrifice taken on unknowingly to develop others. She emphasizes that “leaders will give more time than they actually have to exercise their coaching skills. They tend to listen and observe in order to make strategic decisions and provide clear directions.” Massey achieves this by habitually scheduling one[1]on-one and group meetings to check-in both personally and professionally with her team. “As a leader it’s important to take inventory of the mental and spiritual health of those on your team. I always lead from my heart first and that makes all the difference,” she added.

In addition, Massey encourages others to recognize how much value is in giving as a lifestyle – meaning it permeates everything we think and do. She explains that “every day you are serving someone from family and friends to job and beyond. This includes holding the door for a stranger and passing over a grocery cart at Aldi without removing your quarter.”

Going Full Circle

A leader who focuses on giving more than taking experiences immeasurable rewards. What you give is returned to you in greater and larger volumes. Through giving you add value to others. The more value you add, the more valuable you become.

It’s the law of reciprocity or as I learned early in life – what goes around comes around. Today, I encourage you to be a leader who gives often and gives freely.

Evelyn Summerville is a leadership & life coach. She harnesses the experiences and lessons learned during her time as Director of Marketing Research & Analysis for a Fortune 500 firm to support leaders in fast tracking their success. In doing so, Evelyn empowers people to live and lead with purpose, passion and excellence.

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