‘Tis The Season to Give Back
If you’re like me, you’ve recently looked at your calendar and wondered where in the world this year has gone. We’re well into December, and for many of us, that means the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, family visits, dinners with friends, baking, more shopping, holiday concerts…our “to do” lists are miles long—and this doesn’t even touch on the list of items that fill our work days. Juggling all we must get done this month can be daunting. So read this next line with an open mind: If you’re a leader, or aspiring to be one, I want you to add one more thing to your to-do list: give back.
I know, I know, “But Faye, I can’t possibly fit one more thing into this month!” You can, and you must. The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on all that you have and give thanks to those who helped get you to this point. And equally important, now is the time for you to return the favor and give back to others. This applies both personally and professionally, but I’m going to focus on the latter.
Remember when you were just starting out and a hiring manager took a chance on you? Or that time a seasoned colleague took you under their wing and became your unofficial mentor? Perhaps a former colleague reached out via LinkedIn when they heard about a new position for which you’d be a perfect fit. These people all went out of their way to help support you. Giving back doesn’t take a lot of time, but just as it did for you, it can make a significant difference to someone else.
As a leader, you are in a perfect position to share your wisdom with others. Be generous with this gift. Giving back is achievable even with the busiest of schedules. I have two tried-and-true tips on how to do this effectively.
Two Tips on How To Give Back
How much time do you spend commuting to work each day? If you’re like me, you’ll be surprised to do the math and figure this out. It felt like “wasted” time in a car driving to and from work, so several years ago I decided to make a change. I now use this time to reach out to current and former colleagues. I give feedback and provide mini-mentoring sessions from behind the wheel. (Safely, of course! Make sure you’re using a hands-free option if you’re the one driving.) It’s honestly a great, feel-good way to start and end my day, and you have the bonus of catching up with folks you may have lost touch with.
My second tip: at least once a week, schedule a power hour dedicated to coaching and recognition. I like to make sure that I touch on both during my scheduled hour. I target one person to coach/mentor for 30 minutes and then choose several people to recognize for a job well done within that week. If I have extra time, I make sure to look through my LinkedIn messages for people who I may no longer work with but are looking for a referral, recommendation or connection. I make this hour a non-negotiable.
Around the holidays you’ve likely heard people say that you should remember the “reason for the season.” Forget the commercial aspect of the holidays, they say, and focus on what’s truly important. With a bit of planning, it’s possible to enjoy all aspects of the holiday season while making time to focus on gratitude and giving back. I believe we all can give back and should do so freely. It’s a gift that will cost you nothing but will be the most rewarding of all.