Here is a leadership trait that you rarely see in corporate America today. But you don’t have to be a business leader to use it. Anyone can use it. In fact I believe it’s one of the great secrets to wealth.
Be generous – especially at Christmas time.
On Thursday all 300 employees at my company received an email invitation to an impromptu meeting in the lunchroom. We all wondered what the announcement was.
Our company founder’s son and daughter opened the meeting saying:
Our father was a generous man and loved each and every employee of this company and we decided that he would want to give you all a gift this Christmas. Our family has been financially blessed this year and in our father’s spirit we wish to share our blessings with each of you. This gift is not from the company, it is from our family.
Our founder passed away in 2005.
They proceeded to call each employee to the front, gave her a hug and handed her a Christmas card.
When everyone had received a card the daughter said, “Go ahead and open it.” Inside each card was $500.00 in cash. Five green franklins! The family handed out $150,000 in cash 10 days before Christmas.
You should have seen the outpouring of emotion. There were people in tears. Nobody expected this.
Then the daughter said, “This isn’t a company sponsored event so I don’t need to be politically correct – Merry Christmas.”
This happened at a company that regularly gives its employees double the industry standard annual raises, has a generous profit sharing program, and a generous bonus plan, so there was no need to do it. It was done out of kindness and love.
They gave the same amount to everyone from the CTO to the worker on the factory floor. The goodwill and positive energy in that room was overwhelming. In my working class days, we had many years where we survived on less than 10K a year and Christmas was depressing because of the financial strain. I know this gift meant a lot to every employee, but imagine what it meant to the single mom struggling through college while putting together widgets on the factory floor.
For most companies, the Christmas bonus has gone the way of the pension plan and free medical insurance. To me, Thursday at work was a trip back in time. To a yesteryear when Christmas was truly about goodwill, love, peace, joy, and giving. I don’t know if that day actually existed in the past or its a wishful revisionist history, but it existed at a factory in Eagan Minnesota on Thursday Dec 14th, 2006.
So in the spirit of our passed away founder, remember this Christmas season – people are the greatest asset on earth. Be generous to each other. We are all one.