I once met a highly successful and very wealthy young, black entrepreneur. She had been brought up in an entrepreneurial home and was happy to confess that she had never worked a day in her life for other people. Once, she told us, she had tried to work as a teacher. She confessed that this had been the only time she had enjoyed working for other people. At the end of our conversation, she shared how her love for entrepreneurship had led to her marrying a fellow entrepreneur who was also from an entrepreneurial family. Together they have amassed wealth by dabbling in varying industries which include mining, property development and the health and beauty industry. They have built a sizeable empire in Africa and even gone on to list one of their multinationals on the Australian stock exchange and so forth and so forth. Their story is made of the stuff aspiring moguls dream of every day.
In all that time sitting with this highly successful entrepreneur, I came to realize that I was impressed by a little more than the success acquired and the grit it must have taken to ascend their kind of summit. I was impressed with this woman’s generosity, her humility and warmth. Here was this above average person who had earned the right to demand any and everything from others, including respect and a little adoration and yet everything about her demeanor with me, the little person, said she wanted to give of herself. Not only had she opened her home to me, a complete stranger, but she had done so with an open heart and then gone on to generously spend her time sharing her life story and imparting advices she knew would be of use to any smart and determined young person. I don’t remember many of her advices on most days. However, whenever I am faced with a crisis of identity as a growing business person, when I have questions about strength and type of character in business, as a mother, a member of my community, I always revert back to this lady and her graciousness.
pleasantness, generosity- whatever your definition of this display of warmth towards others,
especially strangers, is an aged secret weapon of great leadership. In the days
of monarchs, one’s breeding and class could often be predicted by how gracious
they were with others. And the more altruism was displayed, the more people
were likely to refer to that leader with affection and admiration. Today in our
world, the term “man of the people” is one used in describing a well admired
leader, one others feel close to because he comes across as someone that can
relate to their struggles and challenges. But other than the warm and fussy
feelings it invokes in others, why is graciousness such an important trait of
· Gracious leaders break down all man-made boundaries between people of different backgrounds and social standing. This is important if you want your mission, your story or ideal to bear fruit and prosper. Imagine you could make others believe in your vision and ideals without having to convince them much and by just being kind and a pleasure to relate to. Wouldn’t that make graciousness worth investing in?
· Gracious leaders have answers to questions their peers are struggling with. How you ask? Many leaders who don’t “have the time” to listen to every single person’s sob story miss out on the intel needed to make educated and informed business decisions. The only way to understand complex situations of people who are at a different level as you is if you are in communication with them on something of a regular basis. This makes you accessible to them and enables you to understand others on their terms, not yours.
· Gracious people in general have better relationships with the world around them. There are many ways to alienate people and maybe many good reasons to set yourself apart from them. Some people for instance believe that they are least likely to be respected if people of a lower social standing can relate to you. They even call this being classy. The irony is so called classy people understand that allies are more important than enemies. For one, enemies mean that you are in constant war. What’s worse, wars (even the passive aggressive ones) are expensive and time consuming. Investing in amiable relationships on the other hand builds trust and loyalty with people you may need later and sets a precedence of your integrity and ubuntu which, if managed well, will exist long after you are no longer the boss of your organization.
So how does one become a more gracious leader?
1. To perfect graciousness, you will first have to be sincere. Get your attitude straightened out! If you do not believe in the worth and value of other human beings, especially those of a lower social standing than you, you will find it hard to show them any kindness. Decide that building relationships is more important than making enemies and work on realizing this intent every day;
2. Do one act of graciousness every day. Every day offers us an opportunity to be good to another person, if we are conscious and sensitive to this opportunity. How many low level employees do you speak to every day? What tone do you use with new or junior members of your team or organization? Do you see any lower level people in your team as potential mentees and if not, why are you not? Do you honestly believe you will live forever or is it that you don’t believe you have a legacy that is worth passing on to another?
3. See yourself as an extension of other people, not a lone ranger in town to save the day and leave. It is true that in our day dreams and imaginings we rarely ever share the spotlight with others. However, when you start to see the world as part of who you are instead of just where you are, you begin to be responsible for its wellbeing in its entirety. People who are responsible for the world they live in are never victims and almost always masters of their own fate. In other words, they are LEADERS.
©RSGG Mashabela 2013.
In : Business
Tags: leadership entrepreneurship management