Generosity: an underrated management virtue

Markus VäthPR

2020 was a difficult year for many of us. And not just figuratively, but literally. We are constantly stressed by being locked up forever, home office, homeschooling – not to mention the many corona deaths that we have to complain about. A year in between, a mad standstill. One waits for the social break gong, which frees us to air, to outside, to breathe deeply.

Do not worry, this will not be a Kolmune in the style of “This can teach us 2020”. Personally, I find it difficult (to read and write) columns that tell me what this or that should teach us: “Five things you can learn from Reinhold Messner”, “Seven things you can learn from astronauts” – not my case. What you take with you from 2020 is up to you.

Generosity – fallen out of time

Instead, I want to look a little into the future and make you a suggestion: Let’s proclaim 2021 the year of generosity. “Generosity” – the word seems a little out of date. Suits or plots can be generously sized. Tips can be generous. But what does generosity have to do with management?

Generosity, as I understand it, is the practical business version of trust. At the moment a lot is being written about trust, especially in leadership. A manager should not control everything, but should trust their employees. Control is bad, trust is good; at least that’s how today’s management advisors usually read. I am in favor of turning the discussion down a bit morally.

Because I don’t know how you are: but I personally can’t trust some people. Even (or especially!) When I work with him. As the boss, I know what he can and can’t do. And then close your eyes blindly? Difficult. But be generous – I can. Generosity in dealing with mistakes, in individual learning progress, in my expectation management is definitely possible without having to swear an oath of trust.

Give your employees leeway!

Because in return I sometimes want a lot of leeway. As a manager, I would like to try things out without the spaces in front of me becoming tight and the budget tight. Perhaps that’s why one reads so little about generosity because it’s about letting go, about a terrain that I’m ready to give up. And such a way of thinking is not easy, especially in times of crisis that literally cry out for control. But it’s worth it. Generosity creates inner serenity, a more relaxed togetherness and sometimes even positive surprises in the work result. Therefore: be generous! Give your employees leeway so that they can breathe more freely and sometimes do “daring” things (another term that is dying out).

2021 will certainly not be an easy year. But we can make it easier for ourselves to lead and work together by perhaps being a little more generous towards others than before. Because then we can not only breathe more freely, but also work more freely.

Markus Väth is considered to be one of the leading figures in the New Work movement in Germany. He is the founder and managing director of humanfy GmbH, which specializes in New Work, and the author of the New Work Charter, which advocates a clear, humanistic and social version of New Work. He has authored several books on new work and management and is a lecturer for new work and organizational development at the Technical University of Nuremberg. With his approach of organizational coaching, he and his team accompany companies in their transformation towards real new work and a new world of work.


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