21st July 2017

Leadership is all about generosity

I have just come back from two hugely generous events with 60 nursing, midwifery and allied health professional students. They are part of the Council of Deans and Burdett Trust for Nursing Student Leadership Programme and alongside 90 more students that will join us next year, they form our #150Leaders. As we spent time listening to inspiring leadership talks, sketch noting, scenario building, presenting, dancing and making pledges on social media I concluded that there is one ingredient that makes good leadership and that is generosity.

Generosity is all about sharing: our experience to inspire others, our creative ideas to build a joint vision, our feedback to build that emotional intelligence and our reflections to shape our stories together.

Inspirational leadership: sharing our experience to inspire others

The first lens of generosity in leadership is that of sharing our experience to inspire others. In our programme, we were joined by generous leaders who shared not just their easy rides but mostly their most difficult moments in their lives that made them stronger. We reflected it is those hard times that shape our thinking and it is our own story that brings the authenticity in us.

Ismalia De Sousa spoke to us about her life experience as a black, Portuguese and EU nurse in London, Nigel Harrison shared his life experience from a young enthusiastic twin all the way up to being Executive Dean in a large organisation, Steve Hams shared his dream of becoming a Chief Nurse and Brendan McCormack taught us that getting to the top of the research podium is possible no matter your background. They all demonstrated generosity in leadership by being open to share the most personal and difficult moments of their leadership journey. Incidentally their generosity was also framed by how they embraced their protected characteristics in their leadership in terms of their gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Distributive leadership: sharing ideas to build a joint vision

Undoubtedly, there is no better generosity in leadership than that of the person who is keen to be part of a network, sharing ideas and building a joint vision. Distributive leadership emerged from our #150Leaders ‘thinking pairs’ discussions all the way to building a poster and presenting it as a team, interestingly amongst… strangers. Working together, building a future and networking are powerful tools to strengthen leadership and our #150Leaders generously shared their creative skills from drawing and presenting to dancing and clapping.

Emotionally intelligent leadership: keep that feedback coming

The emotionally intelligent leader is generous with seeking and providing feedback as she is committed to her self-awareness and recognises her moments of resilience. She is generous because she is not afraid to share the positives she sees in others and is bold enough to ask others back for feedback on her own development. Our #150Leaders filled each other’s feedback boxes with most generous messages demonstrating that it is possible to strengthen our own emotional intelligence by sharing what we see in others. And they followed Adele Nightingale with enthusiasm all the way to #bouncebackbilly.

Reflective leadership: playing back our thoughts to tell that common story

Good leaders tell good stories and good stories build good visions. Thinking together and shaping the future as part of the team got our #150Leaders talking and playing back their thoughts on each topic we touched upon. Reflecting in an open and safe environment allows generosity to flourish. We were so lucky to have with us Beryl Mansel and Sophie Garrat offering their reflections back to our #150Leaders and I so much enjoyed our joint reflective practice.

My final point on generosity in leadership is about being happy to be bold and share my vision with the world, whether it is an authenticity pledge, or a borrowed quote that has inspired me. And thanks to social media we have so many more generous ways to share.