Return On Generosity
When I’m doing culture bench-marking work, one of the most revealing survey questions offered is: “Team members are slow to seek credit for their own contributions and point out those of others.”
The response options are: Never > Rarely > Sometimes > Usually > Always
Team-wide responses are revealing on two levels. First, it can point to how engaged, committed, connected, and trusting a team is. Second, perhaps most important, it can indicate the degree of generosity on the team, a core component in creating the healthiest groups.
You see generosity come alive in teams like the Navy SEALs. Notorious for having very few individuals make it through the intense training, the SEAL teams are among the world’s best teams. The people who succeed in making it through are NOT the top athletes, the biggest, strongest, highest IQ, or best individual performers. Instead, the people that make it through to become a Navy SEAL are the ones that put the teams’ needs above their own, especially when the going gets exceptionally tough, physically, mentally, and psychologically.
The SEALs know that great teams are made of generous individuals who perform consistently well, not individual high performers. Generous individuals support and uplift their team, even when other team members struggle. And they trust that others will do the same for them.
It’s far easier to be a critic than a creator (an original contributor of ideas and solutions) or a celebrator (one who celebrates the good or great work of their teammates).
The critics forget or don’t care that creators and celebrators are putting themselves out there. One hundred eleven years ago in Paris, Teddy Roosevelt gave his now-famous talk, “The Man in the Arena.”
“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.“
We enter the arena when we dare to speak out with courage, kindness, and enthusiasm and support our teammates with generosity. Most interpret Teddy Roosevelt’s passage as a celebration of individual accomplishment, but the arena that business lives in is called culture. The golden road of a great culture —which contains team engagement, trust, and results — is paved with courage and generosity.
By being generous with your support, presence, ideas, respect, and listening, we invite others to have a voice at the table. This generosity encourages similar behavior and, when celebrated, can become contagious.
The mantra “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is a great reminder. When people speak out, they are in the arena, too. Knowing you’re supported, and offering support to others, are among the greatest gifts to give and receive. And, it costs very little to be generous in your support.
I don’t use the word generosity lightly, as there is a correlation between generosity and luck. When you help someone with your generosity, you’re essentially making them lucky. As they luckily become beneficiaries of your generosity. When generous acts are paid forward, a cycle begins to take place. Now, you, collectively, are active participants in a cycle of good fortune.
Whenever I find myself in a good flow with my work, it’s often because I feel I’m the benefactor rather than the beneficiary. I share my ideas, insights, advice, and guidance with others interest-free. I want my clients and teams to look great, so I give them my best advice. In turn, they live up to their potential, and I get to witness the results. In all this, I’m the lucky one — which all started with generosity.
Generosity and luck are contagious and pay dividends throughout your business with this virtuous cycle. It has a flywheel effect that, once moving, accelerates. Practice this consistently on teams, and you’ll create your luck.
This luck-filled virtuous cycle must start somewhere, so why not start today by practicing more generosity?
Great Work, Beautiful Thinking, Meaningful Life
3-Way Author Conversation with
Charlotte Lockhart (founder of the global movement for 4 Day Week)
Michael Bungay Stenier (Best-Selling Author of The Coaching Habit)
hosted by, me, Steven Morris
Live & Virtual Event — October 19 (US) — 1 pm PT / 4 pm ET
USA — 1 pm PT / 4 pm ET
We’re living in unprecedented times in the world of work and the future of work. Maybe, just maybe, work environments are changing for the better.
As business leaders, we can help people and our companies re-think, re-ignite, and re-design how we approach effective work while getting clear and actionable toward the worthy goals that we aim to achieve.
When we employ our imaginative resources and challenge conventional thinking about how, why, and what we do at work, we can make meaningful changes.
Both Charlotte Lockhart and Michael Bungay Stanier (aka MBS) are breaking bold, positive, and creative ground in the global changes that are revitalizing and bringing more meaning to the world of work.
This conversation will be hosted by brand and culture-building expert, Steven Morris, whose work and writing are committed to helping businesses (and their leaders) realize their greatest potential.
Join us for a live Author 3-Way Conversation (via Zoom) to explore what it means to do great work, live a meaningful life, and explore beautiful thinking.
Seating is limited; registration is required. This live, virtual conversation will be recorded via Zoom — so feel free to register even if you can’t make the live event.
Join us for a global conversation:
October 20 / Australia & New Zealand — 6 am Australian Eastern Time / 8 am Auckland Time
October 19 / USA — 1 pm PT / 4 pm ET
If you want a more trusting team, a culture of belonging or a magnetic brand that attracts more of the right customers, I can help. If you'd like to explore if working together makes sense, drop me a line.