Giving Begins in the Office

Giving is as old as the ages, yet few people see giving as a value-added core competency in business.

Society seems to be teaching us that takers succeed and suckers give. Well, ?suckers? like Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Warren Buffett, former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Oprah Winfrey and Quincy Jones have done very well with this giving approach to life. And some of the most generous givers in the corporate space, such as Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, are also some of the companies that have emerged on the other end of this global economic crisis with their balance sheets and their businesses still intact.

Giving starts with serving those who work inside your organization, and it radiates out to others you serve as part of your corporate mission: customers, business partners, suppliers and stockholders. How you treat your employees is an important sign of how you treat everyone else in your business. If you can get it right with employees, you can get it right with your customers and other stakeholders.

Do the right things long enough, and it will pay dividends that build wealth. Employees will repay loyalty with hard work and dedication, customers will return for repeat business and partners will continue working with a company they can trust. On every level, ?love leadership? provides leaders with a strategic advantage in business, politics, civil society, home and life.

Be a Leader Who Shows Up

As a leader in your family, your organization, your industry and your community, you must represent the change you want to see in the world.

So show up in the offices of your customers and partners around the world. Show up in underserved communities. Show up at regular staff meetings and sit in the back until asked to speak. Show up in the lives of employees?and sometimes their families, too. If a team member goes into the hospital or an employee?s family member passes away, show up at the hospital or memorial service, make a call or send a personal note.

Be the boss who works as hard or harder than your staff. It doesn?t take much effort, and it takes even less money. But it does take interest. Little things count?sometimes a lot.

Today, show up with a simple question for your employees: What can I do to help you do your job? Staff members may not have an answer, but they will appreciate the fact that you took the time to ask them and that you really listened to what they had to say. Employees want to know that their employer is interested in them for the long term and wants them to succeed.

Your intentions matter when you are serving people, including employees, customers and business partners. Regardless of what your product or service is, success always boils down to the people. Without them, you are nothing. And without serving them, you won?t achieve your goals.

John Hope Bryant is the author of Love Leadership: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass, August 2009). He is the founder of Operation HOPE, America?s first nonprofit social investment banking organization.