Publisher’s Note: The Generous Leader

Donating money to charities is important, but there are many nonfinancial ways leaders can give to their employees.

November, 2016

As we compile our fifth annual list of Hawaii’s Most Charitable Companies, I have been considering the various meanings of the word generosity.

The philanthropic companies we feature in this issue give in many ways, including cash, in-kind donations, employee donations and employees’ volunteer time. These contributions are integral to the well-being of our community and the ability of Hawaii’s nonprofits to serve the needy. That’s why Hawaii Business compiles this list of corporate giving each November.

In keeping with my column’s focus on leadership, I’d like to expand the definition of corporate gifts to include other ways a leader can be generous. A leader can give in big and small ways every day: showing gratitude and appreciation, being an active listener, mentoring, and being present in conversations with your employees. These gifts can be priceless.

Most employees want to find meaning in their work. A generous leader provides employees with opportunities and personal rewards that are often intangible, but are nonetheless rewarding. I’ve been fortunate to work for generous leaders in my career and I’d like to outline some of their qualities:

• They give credit rather than take credit for team successes. A generous leader doesn’t look for personal glory, but rather recognizes others who worked hard.

• They are humble and consistently demonstrate it. A generous leader is genuine from deep inside and good-hearted to the core.

• They forgive and do not hold grudges. A generous leader moves beyond bad circumstances and doesn’t let setbacks damage the organization’s bigger picture.

• They share knowledge, wisdom and lessons learned if that helps the overall organization.

• They find time to mentor. A generous leader may be the busiest person on the team, yet still takes time to mentor and grow the next generation of leaders. They value the future of the company and set up others to succeed.

• They provide honest and constructive feedback. A generous leader is able to encourage employees when they do good work and recognize teachable moments when their work falls short.

• They provide support. A generous leader is always communicating and asking employees to explain their current challenges, and collaborating with them to provide solutions and help.

• They give anonymously. A generous leader is always “planting seeds” for high performers with the powers that be and to a network that will provide advantages in the future.

• They provide opportunities. A generous leader is continuously looking for ideas and growth to give employees advancement or upward mobility.

It’s undeniable that the actions of generous leaders benefit their employees, but they also benefit the company culture and the bottom line.

The question is: Are you a generous leader? If not, how can you become more generous? Assess where you are today and step up to the next level; I think you’ll be happy with the results.

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Bobby Senaha