Gift giving is part of organizational culture.

We’re reminded of this during the holidays, but, organizations, teams, and leaders are always giving.

Organizations give of their collective time and resources through service and philanthropy. Teams frequently do the same, sometimes developing their own gift-giving traditions – the annual “white elephant” exchange comes to mind.

Individual leaders give gifts too – for holidays, to show appreciation, and to acknowledge special occasions.

We frequently think of gifts as material objects – a card, a book, a bouquet of flowers. In this season of giving, we may also want to consider the other definition of a gift, as “a notable capacity, talent, or endowment,” according to Merriam-Webster.

In addition to the gifts you may have purchased this holiday season, here are a few priceless ones you can give throughout the year:

  1. Time. The gift of time is both precious and personal, reflecting your values and priorities. We tend to spend more time with team members during on-boarding and special projects, but it’s important to help people feel connected on an on-going basis. Consider your current team. How much time are you spending with each team member every month? Is this enough time – from their perspective and yours? What steps could you take today to check-in and find out?

  2. Attention. When was the last time you met with someone and had their undivided attention? How did the conversation make you feel? Time and attention are two different things. Even with limited time, giving someone your full attention is a great gift. To experiment with this: Pick an upcoming conversation and commit to attending fully to the other person. Take notice of how the individual responds to you. What would it take to be this attentive during all of your one-on-one meetings?

  3. Knowledge. When you share your knowledge with others, you shape the organization in a personal and unique way. Your experiential knowledge is something only you can share. How might the organization benefit if you shared your expertise more regularly with others? How might you personally benefit?

  4. Feedback. When you work closely with people, you have a unique vantage point from which to offer praise and constructive feedback. As a leader, an important way you help others grow is by sharing this perspective, serving a “mirror” for others to see themselves differently. Do you think of feedback as a “gift”? If not, how might changing your own view of feedback help your team grow?

  5. Inspiration. You never know how or when your actions may serve to inspire others. But, when you give freely, in a way that’s aligned with your organization’s values, you increase the likelihood that others will respond to your gifts. Think about someone in your organization who inspires you. What makes them an inspiration? What might you learn from them?


Ralph Waldo Emerson famously said, “The greatest gift is a portion of thyself.”


Expand how you think about gift giving and you’ll instantly have more to share.