Horizon Performance

Great Leaders Are Good Gift Givers

Great leaders Are Good Gift Givers

This past Christmas my wife and I received a custom, handmade chess set from Germany. The pieces were made of a high-quality cast iron, the board was marble, and the set was enclosed in a beautifully designed wooden box with our names engraved inside. We were truly surprised to receive such a fine gift, being that neither my wife nor I play chess.

My friend felt this was the perfect gift; he loves us — he loves chess — what’s not to like? Now, we appreciated the sentiment and will find a place for this chess set, but it was not the perfect gift. If my friend really knew us, he wouldn’t have thought this a good gift…because he would have looked at the gift through our lens — not his.

This experience was a good reminder of what makes a good gift. A good gift should be one of the following…

· Lasting. It can never be taken away, like paying off your child’s college tuition.

· Encouraging. It provides encouragement, like a timely note to a friend in distress.

· Needed. It fills a tangible need, like taking care of someone’s rent who has fallen on hard times.

· Strengthening. It enhances the relationship, like a cheap yoyo that represents a story that only you and your friend can appreciate.

I think these same good-gift-giving principles apply to us as leaders. I’m sure everyone on your team would appreciate a $100 gift card, but that gift is impersonal…meaning that $100 is likely not the best gift for everyone. When we take the time to get to know each team member, we become better gift givers as leaders. Here are some leadership questions to consider this year:

· Lasting. Who on your team needs critical feedback or training that may help save her career?

· Encouraging. Who on your team needs some public acknowledgment to boost his morale?

· Needed. Who on your team has been putting in ridiculous hours and needs some time off?

· Strengthening. Who on your team needs to feel a deeper personal connection with you?

Great leaders provide these things regularly, but the rest of us really need to work on the gifts we give our team. Like a chess set or a $100 gift card, our teammates will appreciate a gift because it says “you care,” but the same gift can also say “you don’t know me.” Let’s be more intentional at knowing each team member this year so we can be better gift givers.

Great Leaders Are Good Gift Givers was originally published in Horizon Performance on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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