Good Habits #25: Be Generous

By | September 23, 2016

[September 23, 2016]  I was an enlisted man for 7 years in the U.S. Army before receiving my officer commission.  One of my proudest moments was when I was promoted to the rank of Sergeant (E-5 pay grade).  More commonly known as Buck Sergeant, I was fortunate to have plenty of mentors who gave me the basics on how to do well.  One Vietnam Veteran told me that the best thing I could do would to be generous to others.

I thought to myself, “Now wait a minute. How can that be true in an Army based on killing the enemy? Aren’t sergeants taught to be strong, mean, and nasty?”  What that combat veteran taught us was that our time, charity, energy, and resources, should be shared without reservation with everyone in the unit.  By doing so we were giving everything to our troops and anytime they needed us, we would be there.

Too many leaders these days are not generous at all; especially with their time or credit for success.  Leaders understand that their job is to provide resources and what they know in order to help others succeed.  If only more shared their time, especially as mentors, teachers, and coaches, then organizations would see more success.

I also learned from that combat vet that giving my soldiers credit for successful operations in peace and war was a way to gain their respect and admiration.  One Corporal told me later that all his Sergeants did was “hog the credit” whenever things went right and “blamed us” whenever it went wrong.  That sounds like some of the politicians I’ve known over the years.

Leaders who are generous are those who can inspire and motivate.  We’ve all known these leaders growing up.  They’re willing to give their time, knowledge, and credit to others.  And, they are admired by us for what they do for us and others.  That Vietnam Vet was right after all.  I’m glad I followed his advice and when after nearly 40 years in the U.S. Army people ask what my secret was … I tell them it’s no secret at all; it’s just that I was generous with others.

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Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.