Giving and the high performance leader

Helping handStarting with Thanksgiving and continuing throughout the holiday season, most of us spend a lot of time thinking about giving—and reflecting on the many gifts we have received during the year.

In his book “Design a Life that Works,” Michael Alan Tate suggests that giving is a key characteristic of high-performing leaders. He tells of a business leader he was coaching who had incredible technical knowledge, plenty of experience and lots of drive, but he lacked the spirit of generosity. As a result, this leader wasn’t able to motivate his team and achieve the results he wanted.

Tate argues that successful leaders subscribe to four “give factors”:

Give thanks…for what you are most grateful for at this time.

Give credit…to those most responsible for your success, helping you and being there for you.

Give back…with greater frequency in a selfless way.

Give up…or let go of something intentionally to reach a new level of success.

“In my experience as an executive consultant,” Tate says, “a person’s response to these Give Factors reveals a certain depth of character found in those who are ready to take the next step in becoming high performance leaders in business and life. Ask yourself whether you are a giver or a taker, and you will know if you are ready for the next level.”

I wrote in my last post (“Story time isn’t just for bedtime”) about Tate’s book and that I would be drawing on his advice to write a one-page life plan for myself and my business. In the book and online, Tate provides some examples of life plans. I was struck by the fact that in each example, generosity comes shining through in the mission statement, goals and objectives.

Tate recommends that his readers incorporate “EKG charts” into their life plan. EKG stands for Earn, Keep and Give Away. The EKG chart, then, is a grid showing how much you plan to earn over the next two to 15 years, how much of that you intend to keep or invest, and (equally important) how much of your income you plan to give away.

When I think back on the CEOs I’ve worked for in my career, it’s the giving ones that stand out. The ones that encouraged staff through their words and deeds, demonstrated compassion and trust, and honored each employee’s dreams and aspirations.

What does generosity look like in a leader? Here are nine giving “to-do’s” from an article by Bruna Martinuzzi on the Mind Tools website. See how many of these you do.

  1. Give people a sense of importance.
  2. Give feedback, not criticism.
  3. Give people visibility.
  4. Give anonymously.
  5. Know when to forgive.
  6. Give encouragement.
  7. Give opportunity.
  8. Share your knowledge and experience.
  9. Give moral support.
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