Great Leaders Give

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By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

General Norman Schwarzkopf once said, “You can’t help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.”  General Schwarzkopf knew what many great leaders know, that effective leadership is about giving to others, of serving others, of putting others first.  This is a leadership concept that has been around from quite some time, yet I still find it surprising how many leaders are more interested in the power of leadership.

Many leaders understand the law of reciprocity, the concept that by giving or serving first will help you get what you want.  Zig Ziegler (one of my heroes) said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”  And while I appreciate the concept that Zig is promoting with that statement, it’s not always about getting what you want, it’s simply about giving.


A few years ago, United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch teamed up to conduct a study on volunteering.  They surveyed 4,500 adults and here is what they found.  Forty-one percent of the respondents volunteered an average of 100 hours per year.  Of those, sixty-eight percent stated that volunteering made them feel physically healthier, eighty-nine percent said that it improved their sense of well-being or made them happier and seventy-three percent said that it reduced their level of stress.

Canadian Lara Aknin examined the emotional benefits of giving to a charity.  Lara and her team found that spending money on others or giving money to a charity provides a great happiness boost, particularly when giving fosters social connections.

As this year comes to a close and the holiday season is upon us, think about what you can give without thinking about what you will receive.  The greatest leaders are great givers.  How great of a leader are you?

Happy Holidays!

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