“Success doesn’t measure a human being, effort does.” ~ Adam M. Grant, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success (Penguin 2013)
I’ve been reading about the paradox of leadership give and take. “Givers” generally don’t strike people as those who will attain what corporate life considers success. They put the needs of others ahead of self, sometimes helping them with their tasks instead of focusing on their own. Giving leaders are more prone to add value to their people than worry about what they receive personally.
By traditional standards, givers are viewed as inefficient or slow achievers. Have you seen this happen? This unfavorable impression is a result of not spending enough time on their tasks. Thus their recognition for advancement is often negatively affected.
Giving leaders care about helping people become their best by teaching, helping, or mentoring. They recognize that in a group of diverse talents, everyone needs others to reach the peak of effectiveness. I’ve seen this in my coaching practice: To them, success comes in teams, not so much to individuals. If this means a tarnished personal reputation, then so be it. In the competitive business world, this mentality is often considered strange, even crazy.
However, as with the “taker”, paradigms about givers can be inaccurate. With time, the workings within the giver’s world can reveal surprising benefits.
Upside of Being a “Giver”
- Givers trust people and give them the benefit of the doubt. They are willing to risk themselves by betting on those around them. Givers understand there is a difference between taking and receiving. As author Grant defines, receiving is a willingness to accept help, with the desire to reciprocate. Givers credit others for their work.
- Unlike taking, giving is appreciated. Givers focus on the success of others, and grow to earn the respect and trust of those around them. They are noticed as someone good to work with. People welcome givers because they add overall value to everyone. This raises the success of the team as well.
- Givers draw people to them, and the giving becomes contagious. There are numerous benefits for those following a giver. They have a huge learning advantage. Their abilities are strengthened. The desire to give to others is enhanced. Mutual giving breeds interdependence, which breeds stronger networks and beneficial contacts. The increase in skills expands exponentially.
- Employee engagement expands as well, and people are more motivated about their jobs. This increases productivity and efficiency. Eventually, the giving leader is recognized as a major contributor, as people throughout the organization realize and talk about it.
The biggest surprise is that giving leaders can be the most successful leaders of all, despite their apparent shortcomings.
As author Grant suggests: organizations need more givers and fewer takers. The paradox of leadership giving and taking is easier to grasp when we look below the surface, and see the effects of time: give away what you have to end up with more―take what you want and end up with less.
What do you think? Do you see the surprise of give and take where you work? Are “givers” recognized and rewarded? Contact me as I would love to discuss your observations. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.