Giving away of oneself is what great leaders do. Leadership is about bettering others and the world we live in. In order to lead well, giving away of oneself is a necessary function.
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching. The season makes me think of two things, one is gratitude, the other is giving. Today, we settle into the latter…giving.
I don’t know about you, but leadership can be extremely rewarding while at the same time downright exhausting. For me, the exhaustive part can be what I give away to others, my time, strength, love, and wisdom.
I have read countless books on how to set boundaries and how to say no. All the content makes perfect sense, but I tend to struggle with application. It is hard to truly grasp the concept of doing less and saying no at the expense of others. I just don’t think it is what great leaders do. Great ones who give themselves away lay their exhausted heads down at night knowing they left it all on the field.
Let’s dive into four things leaders should be giving away to others:
Time is the most precious, yet limited resource we have. We can’t produce more of it, we never know when we will run out of it, and it waits on no one. Our time is competed for at work and at home. Tasks, distractions, and schedules rival the greatest gift a person can give away.
Stephen Covey has a great quote on the subject of time. He said, “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” When we spend money, it’s gone. When we invest money, the interest compounds…the money grows. We tend to spend time on things that do not matter. Great leaders invest their time by giving it away to others, where it can compound and grow.
The people we lead have burdens. It requires strength to carry those daily. The burden could be a struggling marriage, financial hardship, a tough medical diagnosis, the loss of a family member, a kid having problems in school, and/or any of the above. Each one requires extraordinary strength to keep going.
Lifting a heavy object with one person can prove difficult. Picking up that same object with two people helps redistribute the weight. Carrying the heavy load is easier together.
Leaders share their strength. They pick others up when they fall, serve as the Glue when things fall apart in another’s world, and help share the heavy weight of that world. Leaders give away their strength through empathy, listening, and presence. Giving away our strength makes others stronger.
I strongly believe that the greatest definition of love can be found in the Christian Bible in 1 Corinthians 13, verses four through seven. If you are not a person of faith, hang in there. This is relevant to anyone, I promise. The verses read:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Here is a quick exercise. Substitute your name for love, how are you measuring up as a leader? Are you giving away to others patience, kindness, humility, forgiveness, and grace? What about generating hope for the people we lead, encouraging them, and believing in them? I got this exercise from a book called Classic Christianity by Bob George, it changed the way I looked at the concept of what love is.
Giving of oneself through love is what great leaders do.
Most of the time, we gain experience through making mistakes or walking through difficult seasons. Wisdom is the culmination of our life experiences. There is another strategy to gaining wisdom, learning from other’s experiences. So…wisdom could be the culmination of our life experiences enhanced through the experience of others. Learning from other’s experiences is wise because it can be a lot less painful!
Every leader has wisdom to be given away. Whether we have learned it by stubbing our own toe or watching someone else do it, there is extreme value gained from the experience.
Humility is a positive attribute to a leader. The one negative to humility is it may cause us to fail in sharing our wisdom with those we lead. Leaders have a tremendous responsibility to teach. The wisdom we have gained in our journeys is the most valuable tool we have to teach with. Wisdom is a gift to give away.
I don’t know. Maybe I could be completely wrong on the entire subject. This all may sound contrary to what most leadership content will tell you.
Do not get me wrong. In no way am I saying we drain ourselves at work with nothing to give when we get home. The most important people we can give ourselves away to are the ones that will cry at our funerals (Last Will and Testament). The family and friends that will be there when the job title fades away.
What I am saying is leaders are givers. Never once have I regretted giving something away. I can’t recall a single moment in my leadership journey I have given someone my time, strength, love, or wisdom and wished I had it all back.
Let’s be the leader that gives away ourselves to others.