Leadership Give and Take: The Deception of Taking

I’ve been reading, and writing, about the paradox of leadership give and take. The premise regarding those who try to claim as much value as they can is that they get what they want.  Their intentions are to achieve goals and maximize their opportunity.  These “takers” make things happen for themselves and those around them may benefit in the short-term.

In their attempt to gain, a “taker” possesses a narrow focus on personal benefits – the costs of their actions are secondary, and often discounted. The action that seems advantageous at face value is rarely advantageous at all—for those reporting to the taker and even for the taker themselves. This is the deception of the taker’s way.

Leaders who are takers are self-promoting and self-protective. They take credit that may belong to others and spin things in ways that benefit their position. Employees have little difficulty spotting this. Eventually, the leader becomes known for it and the responses of those around them are not favorable.

Takers grow to earn the disrespect of those they work with because of the maneuvers they make. No one likes to be taken advantage of, or have their work claimed by their boss. Other leaders are often affected as well, and word spreads.

Takers may be envied by some, due to their apparent favor with higher leaders. Others may resent them. Both responses fashion enemies. People subject to a taker sense the detriment to their own careers, and that is about as negative a feeling as possible in the work setting.  Overall value in the group declines, due to the draining of motivations and ambitions from its members. The long-term career prospects for a taker are compromised because team performance suffers and turnover rises. Leaders who are responsible for this fallout eventually develop negative reputations that excuses cannot defend.

It’s deceiving.  Amazing skills, training, and drive are often considered the recipe for stardom. What often appears to be a leader who has the world at their command is someone who suffers from a damaged success ladder. The damage is self-inflicted—all because of a poor way of treating people. The leader doesn’t recognize the long-term effects of taking from others.

Have you seen this happen where you work? How do people manage the deception of give and take? I’d love to hear about your experiences. I can be reached here and on LinkedIn.

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