By David Henzel, a founder of Love not Fear, an initiative focused on helping people and organizations to act out of love and not fear.
When we start to reach the higher echelons of our professional pursuits, sometimes we need to stop and reassess what we truly want to achieve in our lives and if that is indeed the direction we are headed in. I strongly believe money is the result or rather the side effect of providing value. But in addition to the benefit of being financially successful from providing value, the highest form of satisfaction in life actually lies in being the beneficiary of someone else’s gratitude—in other words, helping others.
According to neuroscientist Andrew Huberman of the HubermanLab, while feeling grateful has immense wellness benefits from positively impacting social relationships to building resilience to trauma, being the recipient of gratitude actually brings us the most joy. For this reason alone, it just makes great sense to give back whenever possible. In addition to feeling good about yourself and doing good for the world, being charitable can have a ripple effect in operations that creates strong teamwork.
Here are six ways leaders can make giving back part of their purpose:
1. Adopt a ‘level-headed’ CEO mindset.
The CEO mindset is a combination of strategic thinking, leadership skills, adaptability and a results-driven approach. But there are three concepts, I strongly believe every leader would benefit from: conscious capitalism, kaizen and love not fear. Conscious capitalism is a business philosophy emphasizing the idea that companies can and should be a force for positive change in the world. Kaizen is a Japanese business principle that means “continuous improvement” and involves making small incremental improvements at every level. The concept of “love not fear” is about basing everything we do on the emotion of love and not fear, i.e., providing value versus reaching a quota.
2. Align giving back with your organizational values and business strategy.
To make giving back a sustainable part of leadership, it’s essential to align philanthropic efforts with the core values of the organization. Whether it’s supporting education, environmental sustainability or social justice causes, the chosen initiatives should reflect the values that define your company. This alignment creates authenticity and ensures that giving back becomes an integral part of the organizational identity.
Similarly, for sustained impact, giving back should be seamlessly integrated into the overall business strategy. This involves considering social and environmental factors in decision-making processes, aligning product or service offerings with ethical values and exploring innovative ways to contribute positively to society through core business activities. Other corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives could include sustainable business practices, charitable donations and community engagement programs.
3. Build a culture of purpose.
Leaders set the tone for organizational culture by having core values, a vision and a mission by which the organization operates. By emphasizing the importance of providing value, leaders can instill a greater sense of purpose within their teams. In my experience, when employees feel that their work contributes to a greater good, it can boost morale, engagement and overall job satisfaction. And a purpose-driven culture can attract top talent and foster a sense of loyalty among team members.
4. Lead by example.
When leaders actively participate in charitable activities, volunteer work or mentorship programs, it sends a powerful message to everyone they come into contact with. Employees are more likely to be inspired to volunteer their own efforts when they see their leaders actively involved in initiatives that make a positive impact on the community. Encouraging employees to also volunteer in the community not only benefits the recipients but also enhances team dynamics and collaboration.
5. Leverage your skills and expertise.
Leaders possess valuable skills and expertise that can be harnessed for the greater good. Whether it’s providing mentorship to aspiring professionals, offering pro bono consulting services to nonprofits or sharing industry knowledge, leaders can make a significant impact by leveraging their expertise to benefit others. Some possible avenues for doing so include organizing volunteer events, participating in community service or establishing partnerships with local nonprofits.
6. Have a passion project.
In addition to helping others, having a passion project can be immensely beneficial for leaders on both a personal and professional level. Beyond the daily responsibilities of their roles, a passion project allows leaders to channel their creativity, pursue interests outside their core expertise and foster a sense of fulfillment. Engaging in a project that aligns with their passions provides a refreshing break from routine tasks, reigniting their enthusiasm and motivation. This project could be the result of volunteerism, and the products or services rendered could be exchanged for charitable donations.
In conclusion, helping others often involves taking risks, learning new skills and overcoming challenges—all of which are experiences that contribute to personal growth and resilience. From a leadership perspective, these projects can also inspire innovation and bring fresh perspectives and insights back into professional endeavors. Contributing to the well-being of others not only serves as a constant reminder of all we have to be grateful for but also fosters gratitude from others. Giving back and serving the greater good should be considered a strategic investment in well-being, creativity, mindset and leadership acumen. As leaders embrace the power of giving back, they often discover that the returns extend beyond financial gains, encompassing enhanced employee engagement, an altruistic company culture and a legacy of positive change.