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.


Irene Fuller

What a wonderful aha - demonstration of your keen power of self observation, Hal.

December 04, 2011 10:22am PST - Reply


Thank you Irene. Very much a work in progress….It was actually a lack of self-awareness on my part that tripped me up to begin with.

December 04, 2011 3:06pm PST - Reply

Olga Pulido

It takes not only observation but communication in order to make an effective change.  We can not go off of what we believe is the need; we need to ask what is the need.  What a great reminder and lesson.  Thank You!

December 06, 2011 3:52pm PST - Reply


Yes- thank you Olga. Communication can be so simple, yet it is so often forgotten.

December 06, 2011 4:49pm PST - Reply

Android Phones

Fantastic post, I really look forward to updates from you. 
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December 09, 2011 6:09am PST - Reply

Career advice

Thank you for sharing. Not to many people in your position are so gracious. Your article was very poignant and understandable. It helped me to understand very clearly. Thank you for your help. 

December 11, 2011 5:20am PST - Reply

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