We are officially in the season of giving. Thanksgiving to Christmas we are inundated with commercials, movies and songs that remind us to be kind to one another, share the love and generously give of our time, talents and treasures. I love this time of year because most people seem to be happier, kinder and more open to giving. And yet, as much as I love it, I often find myself pondering the question “Why can’t we keep this giving spirit all year long?” Most years I dismiss this question as a fleeting thought, but this year the voice in my head said loud and clear “True people leaders are givers.” Below are five ways that leaders can keep the giving flame lit for eternity:
Give to yourself first
While this may sound selfish and egotistical, giving to yourself first is the #1 component required to be an effective people leader. My favorite new mantra is ‘You can’t give what you don’t have.” Giving to yourself is the Golden Rule turned around “do unto yourself as you would have others do unto you.” If you want love, love yourself first. If you want respect, make sure to respect yourself. If you expect kindness, be kind to yourself. If you want people to be focused, driven and accountable then be sure to model those behaviors to your team. Get the gist? Leaders understand that “they can’t give what they don’t have” and they must lead themselves before they lead others.
Give yourself fully to others
Once you have given yourself the proper love and attention you need, you are now ready to give yourself to others. In doing so, give fully. Don’t hold back any parts of your authentic self. In order to give fully of yourself, your guard must come down and let your vulnerability out. Choose to show yourself as you want others to see you- not how you think they want to see you. It is very easy to present ourselves in a role that we believe we are supposed to play. Many of us, including myself, feel we have so many roles to play and that we need to be different things to different people. However, that actually wastes your own time and energy because you are preventing others from seeing your true self. Leaders give their authentic self to others.
Give positive energy
Effective people leaders give positive energy by exuding a positive attitude. I understand how easy it can be to fall victim to the negative, sad and stressful situations that are in our lives and in ourworld today. Yet, true leaders consistently focus on the positive and strive for a positive outcome. If you can’t approach difficult situations with a calm, positive and forward thinking mindset, you can’t expect those you lead to show up differently. As impossible as it sounds, one person can change the tone or energy of a situation very quickly. In fact as I am writing this blog, I had my opportunity to “walk the talk.” I am on an airplane and the woman next to me spilled her drink. I had two choices: I could be angry and belittle her for the spill or I could help her cleanup and reassure her that accidents happen and everything was fine. I chose the latter. It is amazing how simple small actions and reactions can steer the outcome of a situation. Leaders always choose the high road and give positive energy even under dire circumstances.
Give presence, not presents
In today’s day and age, this is one of the most challenging ways for us to give. We have so many various sources vying for our attention from people to technology that being present seems nearly impossible. Yet, giving our presence to people is the biggest and most appreciated present we can give. In order to give your presence, multi-tasking must stop. When you are talking to someone in person, look them in the eyes, listen, and focus intently on what they are saying. Talking on the phone? Close the email and disregard the constant “dings” from text messaging and social media sites and listen. Being present requires that let go of all distractions and stay focused on the person(s) in front of you. Leaders give their presence by being fully present.
People leaders give thanks on a consistent basis. All too often, thanks is reserved for the big achievements, but showing an individual that their efforts are appreciated is something that should be done even for the smallest of actions and behaviors. The number one thing most of us desire is that our actions make a difference and giving thanks acknowledges that contribution. Expressing gratitude for your team member’s efforts creates a positive result for the individual and the team. What is appreciated, appreciates and continues to grow. If you want outstanding results from your team members, give them thanks and see what happens. Leaders consistently give thanks to others.
As leaders, I encourage you to join me in creating a season of giving all year long. Give to yourself first and then give fully to others. Stay positive in any situation and be present in everything you do. Finally express gratitude to others for their efforts. Demonstrating these five actions each and every day will empower you to create a world of giving instead of just a season.
Ready to join me? Start the year round giving NOW. Share this post with your family, friends and colleagues.