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As Leaders Give of Themselves…

An interesting and unexpected lesson on leadership and giving

I crossed paths with a freezing cold homeless man today on Madison Avenue. He was obviously very cold and in pain. Walking in opposite directions, I ran back a few steps to catch up to him and offered him my gloves. He turned me down. Sort of confused, I said, “Wait, you don’t want my gloves?” He kept walking and offered a quick “No, thank you.” It really got me thinking about how and when we offer ourselves or things to people that we believe would benefit from them.

How self-centered of me to be almost offended by the rejection. My reaction to this gave me real pause. As we both walked on, I started to wonder why I offered them in first place. Was it for him, to keep him warm, to give him what I thought he needed or wanted? Or was it for me, so that I could do what I thought an inspiring and generous person would do? In other words, was this for him, or was it really for me, in service of my own self-image?

So, leaders among us—those in the field, in the trenches, in your boardrooms or executive floors—what assumptions about your people are you making? What are you giving of yourself and your organization, and most importantly, why?

Thank you, friend, for the interesting lesson.

 


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