You Don’t Have to Be Gates (or Buffett) to Shake the World

Guest post from Steve Farber:

How do you become a great leader and a better person? Just do one simple thing: Help others achieve greatness. Here’s how.

Some of the world’s richest and most powerful people already know one thing you might not: philanthropy is so much more than a tax dodge. In fact, philanthropy is a way of showing that success is not measured by money alone, but by how money can help enrich the lives of others. 

You probably aren’t in the Forbes Billionaires List. (If you are, congratulations!) But you don’t need to be a billionaire or even have much money at all to fulfill a sense of mission to others. And if you succeed at that, your own success is absolutely guaranteed as well.

It’s not about the money; it’s about what and who you know. Leave the big-money contributions to the Gateses and Buffetts of the world. The rest of us can give our talent, time, knowledge, contacts – whatever resources we have – to other worthy people in our lives at work and at home.

I’ve made it my life’s work to pass along this message. In effect, you can make it your own, too, by treating everything you do as an act of philanthropy. Here are the three main tenets of what I like to call Greater Than Yourself:

1. Expand yourself. We expand ourselves in order to give to others.

2. Give yourself. Knowledge may be power, but the giving of knowledge is far more powerful because it enriches both the provider and receiver.

3. Replicate yourself. Teach others to do for other people exactly what you’ve done for them.

The principles of GTY are the foundation for a company culture in which everyone reaches out not just to help, but also to help each other excel. The role of a CEO is to ensure that everyone in the company becomes significantly greater as a result of working with one another. The CEO’s job is to lead the company, not to be the smartest, greatest, most talented person in the building. The ability to work well with others, tap into social networks, and draw on collective intelligence is critically important, adding to our knowledge of the world we live in.

My Greater Than Yourself philosophy is grounded in social network theory, which explores how the social processes involved in change are passed along between individuals and between managerial levels in an organization. This involves a shift from primarily focusing on the individual and individual attributes, to understanding the dynamic supports and constraints of the larger network in which the individual operates.

Diving In Deeper

Here are some details about each of these three tenets in the GTY process. Add your own items to the lists! 

1. Expand Yourself.

Take a personal inventory of:

· Things I do well

· Meaningful experiences I have had

· Life lessons I have learned

· People I know

· My admirable qualities

· My personal values

Then ask, what more can I do to improve the quality and depth of my experience and knowledge?

2. Give Yourself

Be clear on intentions to make a difference in others’ lives by offering all of one’s:

· Knowledge

· Connections

· Experience

· Insights

· Advice and counsel

· Life lessons

· Confidence

· Words and gestures of encouragement

3. Replicate Yourself

Ensure that GTY efforts expand far beyond one’s own relationships by:

· Making sure others understand that you expect nothing in return except that they take on GTY projects of their own

· Making sure they understand that their GTY project recipients will be required to take on GTY projects of their own

· Challenging everyone to practice GTY in their professional and personal lives

· Sharing one’s GTY successes and failures with others, so they can learn from your experience
By following the Greater Than Yourself, leaders will be empowered to help others—teammates, employees, and colleagues—become more capable, confident, and accomplished than they are themselves, and in the process achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives.

About The Author:

Steve Farber is author of GREATER THAN YOURSELF: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership and founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, an organization devoted to changing the world through the cultivation and development of extreme leaders in business, nonprofits, education, and beyond. Listed on Inc.’s ranking of the Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts in the world, and #1 on Huffington Post’s 12 Business Speakers to See, Farber is a bestselling author, popular keynote speaker, and a seasoned leadership coach and consultant who has worked with a vast array of public and private organizations in virtually every arena. For more information, please visit