Members of your team that bring the gift of Generosity will be quick to pick up work, pitch in, and work long hours. The expression of Generosity is, almost by definition, a willingness to give beyond our short-term capacity.
These team members can create the illusion of cooperation and partnership in your teams, but under the surface, are a brewing disaster.
Because we can only give for so long before either getting our own needs met, or becoming resentful, it’s important to identify and address this tendency sooner than later.
Your job as a leader is especially tricky in these situations, as you’re attempting to catch a pattern before it becomes toxic, and this will mean identifying the opportunities for leadership in the face of what occurs like genuine Generosity.
Your team members may protest, insisting that they are simply being generous and it feels good — your job is to distinguish the breakthrough you see for them, and invite them to allow the other members of their team to take on their own work.
The three most common methods to handle confrontation are fight, flight, and freeze. Generosity can bring a forth approach to managing confrontation: nurture.
Your team members that embody the trait of Generosity will tend to support and take on the work of others as a way of avoiding what might be confronting and provide their next breakthrough in their own leadership.
As a leader, this way of avoiding confrontation can be especially challenging to spot, and confronting for you to address. On the surface, your Generosity-type person is supporting the team, and by inviting them to choose back into their own path, you may be taking away from an already besieged and busy team.
This is the nature of leadership — a willingness on your part to create the breakdown that will source and provide the opportunity for the breakthrough.
Rather than avoiding the breakdown that may be caused when you invite Generosity back towards its own work, be willing to aim toward the breakthrough, intentionally creating the breakdown if that’s what is required.
Holding on to the short-term pay-offs that the shadows of Generosity provide is unsustainable at best, and a recipe for resentment and friction on you teams in the mid- to long-term.