The transformative power of generosity


Here is a different business approach that has the power to transform your organisation and, as a result, your brand: be generous, with your time, your knowledge and your praise.

The idea first emerged to me in an article by Stefan Einhorn in the Intelligent Optimist – one of my favourite magazines. Sadly, the article is no longer available online, but the idea still has resonance. Einhorn stated he believed that one important cultural attribute for organisations to be successful is to be generous.

(You can listen to Einhorn giving a TedX talk on a related topic here.)

Generous – now there is a word and value that you don’t hear very often in connection with for-profit organisations!

Be generous, not from a philanthropic point of view – he wasn’t talking about supporting the starving masses (although I am sure he would be for that as well). In the past I have talked about inconvenient values, but here is one that I would think is not only rarely inconvenient, it has the power to really change how you think and do things.

The thesaurus tells us the opposite of generous is stingy, meagre and lacking; and, uncomfortably, they are probably more accurate descriptions of many organisational environments.

We tend to treat our work environments like fields of battle, with Sun Tzu, Machiavelli and endless sporting analogies the playbooks for success, which is only measured in terms of winners and losers. How about we look at things from a different, more generous perspective?

Be generous with each other, treat your fellow workers with respect, praise good work and deeds, support your team. Increasingly, research shows that more than money, these are the things that will keep people engaged and happy.

Be generous with your knowledge: share what you know instead of trying to use it as a source of power. Richard Dawkins first talked about “memes” in 1976 as way of describing the spread of ideas and it has been in the water supply ever since; so if you want to build a real source of power, set your ideas free.

Be generous with your time: a little effort and attention can go a long way, so mentor someone who is just starting out and help them avoid some of the potholes you fell in. You never know when your act of generosity will come back to you (but I’ve found it invariably does often in unexpected and wonderful ways).

Be generous with your brand: work with others who share your values and goals so you can both be more successful. Many organisations are sharing the love, using their more established higher profiles to give a leg up to those just starting out and in return finding new audiences for their products and services.

So, next time you’re looking at doing something and you pay lip service to the over-used platitude of “win win” it might be worth taking a minute to think about things through a different lens – and think “be generous” instead.

See you next week.

This is one of my earlier blogs updated for my readers it’s an idea worth revisiting. I hope you enjoyed it.



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