Last week I sprawled over this beautiful phrase- “scarcity of generosity”. I have been thinking of this for a while now and it does have a deep meaning entwined in it.
Is generosity a scarce gesture that we see around always?
We see there is a huge vacuum of this every day, in the people around us. At the workplace, at the personal front, at the social circle and what more to say, even on the street that you walk around or even in a supermarket, we see the scarcity of generosity.
You don’t need to be rich to be generous and generosity is not often to do with money.
When was the last time you have seen someone very generous in imparting his knowledge to you? Or have seen the spontaneous time and effort that one has laid on your feet to be of service to you? Or the patient listening ear that one extended to you when you really had to talk your heart out?
We can think of various examples of the generosity being seen as a scarce gesture. I am not penning the same in the context of various situations in life but of the leadership stuff that we see around every day in our work life. Have you ever seen a leader who is generous and what fun you would have had in working with a boss like him or her? I am sure all of us would have had someone whom we worked for who had shown us that generosity is not scarce if one needs to make use of it consciously and genuinely.
It’s not a rocket science to practice generosity. Well, it’s not something that one can tailor make or fabricate in self-structure easily. Having said that there, of course, are that self-image conscious leaders around us who project themselves as generous for their own selfish means. There are these award and fame hungry leaders, well, they are not leaders but happen to be there by sheer luck or by god’s grace on to their business domain who gets into heaving money around public and misuse the sanctity of true generosity for prestige and power. God bless those.
As a manager or leader, one has plenty of opportunities to be generous and hence exterminate the scarcity of generosity!!!
- Smile generously
Imagine you have to work for someone who just can’t smile genuinely or you have to work for someone who you know it for a fact wears a permanent artificial smile. There is nothing that is so simple and priceless than a genuine smile. It speaks loud when you smile at your colleagues and when you exchange that twinkle in your eyes. It would light up the days for your team down the line. Rarely one would think this is a gesture of generosity. One would understand the value of this when you have a boss who just can’t bother to smile.
- Greet your team and people around
It actually takes no effort to wish your team daily. I had a chance to be associated with a student of mine in 1995, where she would take that extra mile to come and wish people. It used to wake me up from my flood of thoughts. It just breaks the pressure inside you on hearing the same. If you can add the name of the person to it, it’s a cherry on that sweet cake. The more you do the same, the merrier it would be. Be generous in wishing people and let that ego burst. Your team would be rich with that serving of yours.
- Take that extra time to speak to your team personally
Stop by your team and ask them how their health is if they were unwell a few days back. Or if they had told you about their ailing mother, take a moment to ask about that. A few such genuine feelings shared would certainly go a long way and would put you on that pedestal of the generosity of courtesy.
- Share a coffee with your team once in a while
Get out of your cabin, take that coffee and sit next to your team and sip that over a chat even if it’s of work. Simply talk about that extra shot espresso that you had at Costa. Break the monotony and make your team feel that you are a no boundary man. Once in a while pick that piece of cookies from their table or just drop a nice almond cookie on their table for them. Get that best choco donuts your team member likes on his birthday and places it on his table even before he comes to work. Many more such simple acts of genuine mindful gestures are nothing but munificence in some way.
- Spend time to teach your team
I don’t believe in having a daily meeting with my team. I have never practiced the same. I meet them often on something called Capsule Meeting. They are incident based meeting. That’s a quick 5-10 minutes meeting where it’s mostly a standup meeting that has a message to convey and a learning to absorb. Praise people at this time, support some, express your annoyance at some’s nonperformance. Make that meeting a high impact short capsule. Call that needy team member for a long meeting with you, sit beside them and work on their file and make them do the work in front of you and when needed take over and make them see how you do it and take the time to teach them the why and how of every step at work. Come to the level of your team member, speak slowly, look at their eyes and engage them at work. Carry their thought process along with yours while explaining and throw the balance work on them and leave them to do it by themselves saying you will check it once they are done. A true leader is a generous teacher. Never give them a fish but teach them how to fish is a great generosity that a leader can show to his team.
- Turn mistakes into learning opportunity
Mistakes are natural. Criticizing mistakes and not doing anything about it nor providing a solution is the worst thing a manager or leader does. Focus of a leader must be to show the anger towards mistakes and not the person. The art is to make the team understand that the anger is not on him or her but on the mistake that had taken place. An anger is natural and at times in managing people or work. You would need to practice it and one who can practice that as an emotional tool for managing instead of an emotion by itself is a true leader.
One must accept mistakes and then see the what, why and how of that. Getting your team together to see the solution is the best thing to do and one’s mistake should be turned to a learning opportunity for all in the team. Like I said earlier, a capsule meeting on the error can be very positive if the leader presents it across as a learning opportunity. If one can pull the self out of the situation and see the issue from a distance and bring the team to participate in the solution building, the leader wins. There is nothing that is so generous that a leader can do in digging the mines of mistakes to discover golden opportunities for learning.
- Ask questions to your team and awaken their brains.
Imagine a workplace, you are doing the routine mundane tasks every day and the manager who handles the department or function eats all the cake of your hard work. Even machines would wear off if it’s left to run on its own without any interventions periodically. If you are a true leader, you must understand that the brains should not be left to rust. Every job has a mundane part of it and is inexorable. It’s the leader who must keep asking questions to the team, just to ensure that the brain muscles are put to exercise. The neurons must shake and blood must flow rapidly to all sides of the brain. There is nothing more generous than awakening the minds of your team.
- Care your team
You overheard that one of your team couldn’t access her bank account due to some issue and she has been struggling to get that sorted out… Call her aside and ask her whether she is in need of any financial need immediately. Your team member wants to attend to that quick medical check up on Monday morning before coming to work, Don’t think twice before saying yes to her. One of your team members was shifting his flat, give him a day’s off if he needs to settle down recognizing the long hours that he had spent at work without being asked for. There is this driving license class that one needs to attend and, unfortunately, the time slot she got is in between the work hours, give it off to her and you surely know that she would be there when you have an extra load of work. Make that quick one minute call to your ailing team member in between your work hours. Surprise them on their birthday. Care is a form of generosity and is meaningful when it’s genuine.
- Stand up for your team
Your team are in their learning path, they are there because of their limited knowledge, skill and looks up to you for that icing on their knowledge. They make mistakes. Cover them up and do not let anyone else holler on them, hold them under your wings and face the brunt of the situation and take it on you. And don’t forget to give them a piece of your mind in private as they need to learn out of the situation and they must also understand that no one else have the right to shake them except you. The best benevolence is when your team know that there is someone behind them as they face challenges at work.
- Reward your team non-monetarily
Take the time to write them a personal note when they do an extraordinary work. Take that extra care and give your team few days off when they have done long hours of work during the crucial time at work. Have a capsule meeting to express your gratitude for that excellent performance by any of your team. Take pride in appreciating your team. Get the words of appreciation packaged in mindful emotions.
- Love your team
Be genuinely interested in your team’s well-being and care. Be mindful of their upbringing, culture, capability and behavioral patterns. Make them comfortable with you where they can even show the courage to challenge you when you slip on any of the work commitments.
After a tough day at work where you have really made your team member feel devastated about his or her work or performance, make that last call before you sleep or a quick nice text so that they can sleep peacefully. Make sure you are a dinner table talk at their home and sparkle the eyes of their spouse and parents.
Generosity– it’s just there around you in abundance. It’s just that the leaders or those managers are blind to it.
It’s a scarce stuff for those who doesn’t wake up to its calling.
By Binu Prasad