“A person may be as nobly endowed as Duke Chou, but that isn’t enough to inspire admiration if they aren’t humble and generous.” The Analects of Confucius (8.11)

According to Confucius, a good leader is both humble and generous. What does that mean in today’s world? In the last blog entry, we talked about humility – and now we turn our attention to generosity. What does that look in today’s world? I have a few thoughts, based on my own observations and experiences.

Generous leaders…

  • Give more than they take, in the form of attention. They don’t need to have their egos stroked or be constantly propped up by others. They don’t demand extra anything because of their position.
  • Show appreciation in as many ways as possible for those who work for them. They look for ways to raise people up and make time to notice good work and thank people sincerely.
  • Are fully present in their conversations with you. They are engaged and invested in what you have to say.
  • Go beyond contributing monetarily to good causes – they actually model the commitment of time, talent, and treasure to support what they feel strongly about, and encourage others to do the same.
  • Encourage their employees/colleagues to take care of themselves and their families, and model good work/life balance. They are generous in supporting a good work/life balance.
  • They take the needs of all stakeholders into account when defining success — they don’t put the needs of one group of stakeholders (investors, customers, employees, larger community, etc.) above others but look to advance mutual benefit for all.

What other characteristics of generous leaders would you identify?

Catherine M. (Cathy) Perme is a partner at Peterson & Perme Associates, LLC.

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