Strategy

19th September 2013

The Generosity Gene! by Ian Kinnery

The generosity gene is what the great Jack Welch defined as the single most important characteristic of a leader in the 21st century.
Effective Leadership has been transformed over recent years. Once upon a time leadership was very much about hierarchy and position, title and rank, or the stuffed shirt and the corner office as Jack refers to them. In our rapidly developing world where knowledge has become a freely available commodity, we can no longer expect to hold sway because of superior knowledge and where people demand and are used to having much greater freedom of choice we can no longer expect blind and unquestioning compliance with the leader’s requests. In one of the greatest social changes in the history of mankind people get to choose who they believe and who they wish to follow in ways that were never previously available.
21st century leaders have to develop stronger and deeper connections. Skill and personality based connections that are rooted in values that stand close scrutiny and inspection.
Therefore one of the key differentiators is the generosity gene. A leader who has this gene is naturally, genuinely and authentically more interested in the wellbeing of his followers than of himself. His motives are not self-interest but the success and growth and prosperity of others. He is less interested in taking praise than giving praise. It is not about him, it is about others, the people he leads and the customers he serves. His point of focus is not inside himself but outside himself.
The presence or indeed absence of this gene very soon becomes part of the awareness of everyone surrounding the leader.
Despite the technology, the society and the so called sophistication at heart we are all animals and in the same way as a dog can sense whether a person is frightened or comfortable so I believe we all, naturally and instinctively, pick up on where someone’s focus and interest lies.
It is possible to fake sincerity, but not for very long, and in the intimate context of a leadership relationship the lack of the generosity gene will soon show up.
Most of all it will show up in lack of trust, poor performance and frustration for both the leader and the led.