Can Altruism Become a Developed Leadership Competency?
I’ve written an article and a chapter in my latest book on altruism. It seems to me an evocative concept that lingers each time leadership skills come to mind. This concept of living my life for the good of others has threaded its way through much of my adulthood. When I spend time accessing why I keep feeling this way, the consistent truth is – that stress and uneasiness about life dissipates when I act with others in mind. Troubles and combative situations seem far away when altruism is a practiced competency.
One company, that I know about, sent its top leaders on a humanitarian adventure, rather than, to a resort in the States, where they usually just played golf and had fun.
They dug irrigation ditches for an under-served remote African community. No golf, just ditch digging. These leaders came back changed. Some said it was life changing. This off-site experience was transforming.
Another small company team builds a Habitat for Humanity House each year together. Some business people I know build wells in India in remote villages.
A great article on altruism is found on the Greater Good web portal at Berkeley.edu. I’ve included their definition and some of the benefits they list to altruism in our lives.
Altruism is when we act to promote someone else’s welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves. Though some believe that humans are fundamentally self-interested, recent research suggests otherwise: Studies have found that people’s first impulse is to cooperate rather than compete; that toddlers spontaneously help people in need out of a genuine concern for their welfare; and that even non-human primates display altruism.
The article lists these benefits of altruism:
o Altruism makes us happy.
o Altruism is good for our health.
o Altruism is good for our bottom line.
o Altruism is good for our love lives.
o Altruism fights addiction.
o Altruism promotes social connections.
o Altruism is good for education.
o Altruism is contagious.
How could you set some goals for yourself pertaining to altruism? Should you enlist a close friend or coach to help you stay true to this idea of helping others? How can keeping track of these kind of goals help reshape your leadership style?
Rick Forbus, PhD
CEO – Executive Advisor and Coach