Life’s lessons are often taught to us in very unexpected ways. In some cases, this means that those lessons are also taught by unexpected individuals. While we may believe traits such as leadership and generosity are learned over years of hard work and discipline, there is living proof that is not necessarily always the case. Consider the story of a young woman we shall call Sarah:
Sarah is, simply put, an incredible girl. At just 17 she has exhibited many of the qualities and traits that some people work their entire lives to achieve, and in many cases still fall short. She took a job at the mall working in a retail position. These often thankless, brutal jobs have allowed her and countless others the opportunity to be exposed to everything human behavior has to offer. Anyone who has worked retail understands that this often involves a large amount of bad with a spattering of good.
Sarah recently shared a conversation she had with a friend. A fellow coworker at the mall had experienced more bad than good and was commiserating with Sarah about how terrible her day had been. It was filled with an angry manager, rude customers and missed sales goals. Her coworker felt anxious and defeated at the end of the day.
Although Sarah had no power to make customers choose kinder words, calm the angry manager’s temper, or increase her friend’s low sales numbers, she was not completely powerless in the situation. Sara knew that she could listen. She also knew that after she had listened, she could more fully examine the situation to determine just how she could help her friend get through her difficult day. This intentional, service minded attitude gave Sarah both the opportunity and the ability to assist her friend when she needed it most. In this case, the simple, kind act of treating her friend to a smoothie and chatting made Sarah the perfect example of generosity and leadership.
According to Hilary Davidson and Christian Smith, the authors of The Paradox of Generosity, when people engage in generous acts, it actually results in an improvement of the generous individual’s well-being. While Sarah’s friend was certainly cheered by their encounter and Sarah’s kind, understanding words, Sarah also received something for her unselfish act. When asked about her experience, Sarah stated with a bit of surprise that she felt a strong sense of contentment when she thought about what she had done.
As a leader in business, you are given the chance each and every day to make a difference in the lives of those around you. One of the clearest ways that superior leaders can show they value their coworkers is by holding regular one-on-one meetings. This is a great time to give direct reports, listen closely, and offer the direction, support, and praise that most workers crave from their leaders. It not only shows that you care about their role within the company, but that you care how they fare as a person. This type of interaction usually results in stronger working relationships, increased job performance, and an overall greater morale in the workplace. Like Sarah, leaders may also come away from the meetings with a great feeling knowing they have done something worthwhile.
Making a positive difference in your workplace is as simple as being generous with your time. It’s beneficial for all involved.
This blog was written by Dilip Barot, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Etech Global Services, and founder of Creative Choice Group, headquartered in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Etech employs 2,700 team members across the US, India and Jamaica. If you would like to learn more about Etech, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.