At Work

Being an Agile Leader Starts with Being Aware and Generous

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Previously, we discussed the importance of having a balance of both hard and soft skills as leaders and employees in today’s job market. Developing these skills gives us an agile leadership style that is not only effective at making us better workers, but it can also help us be better people at home, at church, and in our civic engagement. 

To help us understand and develop the ability to be agile leaders, I created the following acronym: 

A.G.I.L.E: Aware, Generous, Innovative, Learning, Empathetic

Today, we will explore how an A.G.I.L.E. leader is an aware and generous leader. 

Becoming Aware

“Self-awareness” and “authenticity” have become buzzwords in the last few years. With the increase of social media engagement and ever-growing number of platforms to engage others, it becomes harder for users not only to stay authentic but to become more self-aware. It’s hard to stay authentic because it’s easy to hide behind a digital profile or avatar version of our true human selves. It’s hard to become more self-aware because the lines are blurring between our digital self and our human self. Which one is real? Who should I be? Who am I really?

The leader that is working to become more self-aware will be empowered to be more authentic, whether online or offline. When a leader is unaware of self or inauthentic, it is destructive to both herself and the people she is leading.

This applies to brands, too. The style and visual imagery of a brand online and in social media; the tone of voice and approach to messaging—it all starts with leadership. If a brand wants to be more H2H (human to human) in its business approach, it must be led by leaders who are self-aware and authentic. Fake and blind leaders make bad branders. Bad branders lead to a bad brand—one that won’t be trusted, won’t be followed, and, ultimately, won’t be sustained by profits.

Know yourself. Then be yourself. Period.

Jesus led by example in this area, as he was fully aware of himself and his identity. He led his followers with a keen sense of awareness of his own identity as well as recognizing the ever-changing needs of those whom he came to serve and save. Every follower of Christ should strive to follow Jesus’ lead by leaning into a Spirit-driven self-awareness and others-attentiveness.

The Importance of Being Truly Generous

All too often, our generosity happens when it serves our own personal and self-interests. This is true of both leaders and brands. Here, I’m defining selfishness as the opposite of generosity. I’ve seen selfishness often, whether as an entrepreneur running my business’ social media, or as a customer engaging a brand on social media, or as a startup founder responsible for our brand voice. 

How are brands and leaders selfish? Any time they place the advancement of their own profits over the advantage of their own customer, selfishness is occuring. And often it happens in subtle and crafty ways.

For example, a company’s approach to social media may place more value on strategy than on generosity (or building trust). I’ve seen brands stingy with their RTs (retweets) on Twitter simply because it wouldn’t align with their strategy. I’ve seen leaders get tweeted at or mentioned, only to never reply or RT back. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how to effectively use Twitter and engage with your loyal tribe.

Similarly, brands that spend 80% of their content on Facebook and Instagram hard selling and 20% adding relevant and generous value are doing it backward. A brand should sell 20% of the time (brand-focused content, products, services, coupons, etc.) and generously give relevant value 80% of the time instead. No one likes to record a 30-minute TV show so they can enjoy five minutes of the show and 25 minutes of commercials.

You want to build your brand and make your business more profitable? Get to know your customers. Know their pains and joys. Know their ins and outs. Know their fears and dreams. Then, as you get to know them to be kind to them and relate to them as humans, don’t leverage that knowledge so you can simply sell to them. So, in the case of our Twitter example, yes, strategically follow people that align with your vision and interests as a leader or brand—but step beyond your strategy and be more generous as well. Tweet more generously. Retweet others’ content. Reply often. Tag individuals and brands. Mention liberally. This will only prove to build your brand, deepen your tribe’s trust, increase engagement, and, eventually, better your bottom line.

Beyond just being generous online and through social media, generous leaders must be generous with the people they lead and work with. Give time. Give energy. Give space. Give feedback, passion, and encouragement. Give praise. Give more to others than you give yourself. This will fundamentally change a person and a brand’s culture into a culture of strategic generosity.

The same is true in how we lead and shepherd our homes, workplaces, and church communities. Are we giving as generously as Jesus has given to us with our time, talents, and tools? We should lead the way in generosity—not just on Sundays but every day of the week, when nobody is looking and you do not stand to gain anything in return. This radical generosity will leave a lasting impact on our homes and workplaces that will far outlive us.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Medium and has been adapted with permission from the author. You can read the original version here.

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