We recently enjoyed hosting family for a few days and my four-year-old son had a blast playing with his cousins.
What he didn’t enjoy all the time was sharing his toys. He didn’t mind sharing the toys he didn’t want to play with, but sharing his prize toys was difficult.
One morning I heard unhappy sounds coming from his room. I came into the door and found him crouched over his favorite dump truck in a protective stance, glaring at his cousin.
I sat down on the floor and asked him this question: which would you enjoy more, playing with your truck alone or playing with your truck with your cousin?
He retorted that he wanted to play alone with his truck. So, I gave him what he asked for. We vacated the room and left him to enjoy his dump truck by himself.
He enjoyed playing alone for a bit, but he quickly lost interest in his prize toy and he came out to call his cousin to play.
To prove a point, I told my niece to stay with me and asked my son if she could play with the truck too. At first he said no, but when I said she wouldn’t be able to come unless he shared his dump truck, he eventually caved and agreed to let her play with his truck. The sounds from his room returned to happy shrieks of delight.
What does this have to do with leadership? A lot.
Leadership comes with perks. In the language of a four-year-old, perks are like a favorite dump truck. While it’s not good to be a leader only for the nifty perks, it is not wrong to enjoy them.
The problem is when leaders hoard their perks and don’t share. Like many things in life, sharing experiences together makes it far more enjoyable (https://www.nursenextdoor.com.au/blog/the-value-of-shared-experiences/). Not to mention the physical and mental benefits of sharing (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/vitality/201404/the-neuroscience-giving).
Here is the sobering part. If perks aren’t shared, they eventually will harden the leader. She will come to expect that she is worthy of the perks and no one else is deserving.
Once a leader considers themselves worthy of blessings, their mindset only leads to ruin and heartache.
Here are five truths about why it is important to share as a leader:
By sharing blessings the key leadership character traits of self-sacrifice and compassion are cultivated
Brain health and happiness improve through the act of sharing
If a leader refuses to share perks, to impart blessing, eventually they will no longer be able to receive them
By hardening the heart against sharing the blessings of being a leader, eventually the blessings will lose their luster and leadership will become an empty cage
Leaders who don’t share their blessings have lost the foundational concept of leadership: being with others