I have the privilege to host people from other companies regularly. They visit Stripco to see our equipment (some of it is quite unique), learn about our software, and a host of other things. As a general rule, we welcome these people (yes, even competitors) and spend as much time with them as they want.
On Tuesday two gentlemen visited to talk about ERP software. We spent a couple hours covering their topics and went to lunch. They thanked me for all the time I had given. I told them it was my pleasure and that I’ve done it several times this year. One of them said, “Wow, and I thought we were special. We’re not. You’re special.” I was blown away by the sincere compliment. (Important note: I’m no more special than any of us.)
In the business world (or at least this man’s world – CFO of a publicly traded company), it is apparently special that a person would generously give a couple hours to help others, expect nothing in return, and do it regularly. I wish it wasn’t special. If it’s common in your world, that’s fantastic. However, if generosity is not common in your department, division, company, industry or whatever, I highly recommend you try it.
Here are a couple reasons why…
Your leadership results will improve when you’re generous. The results of your leadership are equal to your vision raised to the power of your influence. Generosity makes a positive impact on your influence. People respond favorably to generosity. It has the amazing power to soften a hard person. It rubs off and spreads to others. So make it a genuine habit (no fake generosity allowed; people can see it a mile away). You’ll be blown away how it comes back in unexpected and remarkable ways.
Good stewardship requires generosity. Wherever you are or whatever your position, you’re just a care-taker – for a while. It’s temporary. No matter how powerful or entrenched you may feel, it will end. The President of the United States is term-limited. CEO’s retire. You can be fired. We all die. So hold it loosely, with this perspective. Then consider the desirable outcomes for your successors. You have an obligation to give away your knowledge and expertise freely or to at the very least pass it on to the next generation.
It’s a net value-add for the one that is generous. On the surface, the math doesn’t make sense… I give three hours to someone without any expectation for payment or reciprocity of any kind. That’s -3 +0. You’re down three. But the surface isn’t where the math of generosity exists. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how it works – exactly. I can tell you that you will get more than three in return. It may take time or the proper perspective to realize it, but it will happen. When you give, you get more in return. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to try it. Give freely and generously. See what happens. I dare you.
Yesterday, it was a capital equipment vendor. They wanted to give their Plant Manager a tour of our facility. So I gave the tour, answered the questions, and yes – got another lunch. I could have really used that time for other important things. But I don’t care. I am genuinely thrilled to give my time and insight with no strings attached. Are you willing to try it? You won’t regret it.
So go. Lead. Generous.