Generosity is a character quality that is simple, yet powerful. It’s a quality that requires a mindset of service and selflessness. But when demonstrated, it can aid the development of relationships and form the foundation of trust.
In business and in life, most people say the key drivers for success include attributes like ambition, motivation, intelligence, resilience and drive. They overlook the power of “softer” qualities like compassion and generosity.
Most of us have heard the saying, “It’s the thought that counts” in reference to a gift that didn’t quite measure up to expectations. Generosity, as a character quality, really is about the thought. It is the mindset and commitment to be ready and willing to give of ourselves and our resources when needed. This means we have to think about it, commit to it, and plan for it in advance, so we are ready to be generous when the need arises.
While generosity is the commitment to managing our resources so we can freely give, it’s more than just giving of our money. Generosity is sharing any of our resources. These resources can include our energy, effort, time, knowledge, skills and network connections.
When you are generous and have the heart and mind to give to others, it will produce goodwill and respect from your co-workers and employees. It positions you as a team leader, loyal contributor, consistent producer, and someone people know they can count on.
Here are five tangible ways to demonstrate generosity.
Communicate your willingness to help. Let people know you want to help and are ready to share your time, knowledge, and other resources. This can be done by making a simple statement at the appropriate time like, “Let me know how I can help you.” Another phrase that may be helpful is, “I’m here and ready to support you when you need me.”
Lend an ear. One of the most underappreciated qualities in people is the ability to listen. Listening requires giving of your time and energy to stop and connect with people. Ask questions and provide feedback only when it’s requested – or – when you ask permission to share.
Share information. Be open with information. Proactively share updates on projects. People who freely share information are viewed as being generous and having transparent motives. If you are a manager, be sure to communicate as often as you can, and as much as you can. This engenders trust, and people are more likely to share information with you when you need it.
Ask for help. This may sound like the opposite of generosity, but it’s not. Asking someone for help in an appropriate way does three things. First, it demonstrates the high level of respect you have for the person. Asking someone for help creates a mutually respectful relationship that balances giving and receiving. Second, it provides an example for how to ask for help. Finally, it demonstrates you are willing to accept help from others. This spirit of cooperation shapes a culture of respect, cooperation, and teamwork.
Give credit. Always be on the lookout for who you can credit for accomplishments and behaviors that support your culture. Don’t just limit credit to achievements. Recognize the effort of people who are doing things right along the way. Mention their names in meetings and tell stories about their contributions. This is especially important when you are receiving credit for something that was truly a team effort. Show humility and respect for others by giving credit where credit is due.
Generosity, while seemingly a simple concept, can have a profound and lasting effect on your organizational culture. Practice it, value it, and encourage everyone in your organization to develop a positive and generous spirit.