Yes, your company exists to make money, but that doesn't mean hoarding every penny is in your best interest. "I think what you see is that when you choose the giver approach, yes, you are at risk for being taken advantage of but you also have people cheering for you and rooting for you," says Wharton professor and author of bestseller Give and Take Adam Grant. "We all want to work with givers. We all want to be served by givers."
If it's an ethos that resonates with you, read about the good deeds of three CEOs whom you may want to emulate.
The Best Care Package
When Captain Jimmy Holland was serving in Afghanistan a few years ago, he emailed Menchie CEO Amit Kleinberger to ask for help sending a care package of frozen yogurt to his wife, Jamie, in Tennessee. A veteran himself, Kleinberger arranged to have the care package delivered to Jamie for free. The couple later sent Kleinberger a video showing her excitement upon receiving the gift. "That is when I decided to have them come out to California to not only personally meet with me, but also to send them to Disney," Kleinberger says. "The whole mission behind Menchie's is making people smile and I thought, after the man's service to his country, it would be great to send them to one of the happiest places on Earth."
The Best Employee Retention Move
Several months ago, Rustic Crust, a pizza-making company in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, experienced a devastating fire to its only production plant. Brad Sterl, CEO of the company--the town's second-largest employer--announced he would have a temporary production facility up and running within a month because if the company lost shelf space in stores, it could take up to a year or more to get it back. He continued to pay employees who were able to report to work each day to help do cleanup work or get food-safety and product training, for a total of about 10 to 12 hours of work a week, while getting paid for 40. "It was really about making them feel comfortable because they have bills to pay," Sterl says. "The cost to go out if we lost all those people to retrain and get people that were as good at doing a job as they were pre-fire, I think it would have been tenfold over what we ended up paying them out. It was short money in my opinion to keep them engaged in the process." His generosity is remarkable: On several occasions Sterl has also sent the company's wood-fired pizza-oven truck stocked with 1,000 pizzas for thousands of miles to feed storm victims and disabled veterans and their families.
The Best Way to Use Frequent Flier Miles
Author of "Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over, and Collaboration Is In," Peter Shankman walks his talk. As a frequent speaker, consultant, and traveler, he racks up frequent flier miles and, in 2012, decided to give them away to a half dozen people who wanted to fly home for the holidays but couldn't afford to on their own. Last year, Jet Blue and other donors joined him to give away 28 trips. And this year, he says the initiative will help 100 people. "Companies that are nicer actually make more money. While it's great to be nice for the sake of being nice, let's also talk about the fact that good business and good practices actually generate a crap-ton more revenue," he says. "The eat-your-young mentality of the 80s is really gone. With the conversation economy in real time, it really is about being nice."