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When you hear the words “generous leadership” what do you think of? Do you think of high compensation? Of a substantial amount of time off? Generous leadership is more than this. Jay Steinfeld, author of “Lead from the Core: The 4 Principles for Profit and Prosperity” identified 12 rules of leadership generosity. Steinfeld notes that a lack of empathy in a leader can be a career blocker. To act like you care is not the same as actually caring. These 12 rules can help leaders stress less about just getting things done and begin to care more about the well-being of their employees. Which, in-turn, increases productivity. When employees feel valued and heard, they have more motivation to achieve and excel. Being generous means wanting and knowing what is in your team’s best interest.

The 12 rules of leadership generosity:

  1. Don’t cap compensation. Steinfeld says “If someone does an amazing job, pay them an amazing amount.” If it is not possible to increase compensation (e.g. unions), find other ways to recognize the employee’s work.

  2. Know sugarcoating is lying. It is unfair to an employee to not give honest, direct feedback and then let them find out they are not meeting expectations at their annual review or after several things have built up and now they are at an accomplishment deficit. Providing the hard to hear feedback is important for keeping employees on track and abreast of where they stand and a chance to correct it before it affects their compensation, bonus, etc. You can’t be angry with someone for doing something that they don’t know they are doing.

  3. Find poor performers another role or get them out. This rule is two-fold. Keeping a poor performer on your team is a disservice to them and to your team. Most likely the poor performer is unhappy in their roll, which is a large part of why they may be unsuccessful or struggling. Supporting their transition into a new position either in or outside of the company is a great way to show the poor performer and your team that you will support each employee in what’s best for them. Tolerating a poor performer can lower the morale of the entire team. There is an expression that describes this: your leadership is only as strong as the worst behavior you tolerate.

  4. Know their goals are just as important as yours. Some leaders don’t realize that when you help your team with their goals and support them in their endeavors, they will help you back more than you even thought possible. When your team looks good, you look good.

  5. Hire people who want to start their own business. This seems counterintuitive because you would think that these people may be more focused on their own business than the goals and initiatives of the company. But the reality is that when you help an employee with their goals and ambitions, teach them what they need to know and let them get the experience they will need, more often than not they will stay with you longer and be motivated to work even harder for you.

  6. Shine a light on the path forward. It’s hard to know where to go when you can’t see the path. When you are clear and concise, and communicate your vision in a succinct way, it is easier for your team to see the way to the goals you are trying to meet.

  7. Delegate work and get out of their way. Trust the people you hired to figure things out on their own. Be there to offer support and guidance if needed and definitely provide a clear vision in the beginning, but your team needs the freedom to learn through success and through failure.

  8. Give them your direct phone number. Let your team know that you are available when they need you. Steinfeld encourages leaders to be generous with their time. This lets your team know that you care about them and what they need to be successful in their position.

  9. Make sitting in on other team meetings normal. This may not be applicable in all fields, but sitting in on other team meetings can help individuals get a better understanding of how their job fits into the organizational picture. It allows them to understand how they can better work with other teams and how important their responsibilities are.

  10. Do not allow people to get stagnant. As your team becomes more seasoned, give them more responsibility. Constantly challenging the mind breeds growth and development and discourages boredom.

  11. Failure is not a bad word. When you allow your team to fail without fear (as long as they are giving their best effort), you open the door for them to be creative, innovative and daring. Failure is an opportunity to learn and should be celebrated.

  12. Blame yourself first. When something goes wrong, a leader looks for the solution not the fault. They will blame themselves first for not providing clear direction, sufficient resources, etc. What could you have done better that would have allowed your team to do their job better?

Remember that giving respect to your team breeds respect in return, along with a more productive, engaged and motivated team.


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