You want to be a team player, but the more you give, the more folks take– without offering much in return. It’s not that you’re keeping score, but you’ve noticed a pattern, and you know something’s wrong.
You look around and realize that others seem to have more balanced relationships. But there you are, once again, left feeling like a sucker. If this sounds like you or someone you love, read on. Some of the best givers I know get taken. It doesn’t have to be that way.
How to Give Without Getting Taken
Continue With Generosity – Although this sounds counter-intuitive since that’s what got you into this mess to start with, don’t lose that giving feeling. I’ve seen over-givers swing their defenses too far in the other direction. They put up their guard, and miss the beautiful relationships and productivity that comes from balanced giving and receiving. Don’t keep giving to takers, but stay open to the possibilities the rest of the world has to offer.
Exude Confident, Humility – Don’t be cocky, but do be confident. Other leaders admire and respect peers who show up strong and open. Showing up weak makes you an easy target for takers. Radiate the same respect for yourself as you give to others.
Articulate Your Feelings – Over-givers have a tendency to give until it hurts, but not talk about the pain. Resentment secretly builds and sucks out necessary energy. Letting someone take advantage of you weakens leadership– yours and theirs. Teach people how you want to be treated. Usually these conversations have to do with boundaries. It’s not a matter of if you want to help, but when and how much. I’ve seen many cases where people are shocked when an over-giver suddenly erupts with pushed down emotion, after appearing to be “happy to help.”
Question Your Motives – Without getting to deep into psychology here, if you’re repeating an over-giving pattern, consider what you’re “gaining” from all the giving. Are you a people-pleaser looking for affirmation? Are you feeling insecure about your place on the team? Getting clear on the underlying issues will go a long way toward building more balanced relationships.
Ask For What You Need – It’s easy to assume that others know what we need and how they can help. Tell your teammates how they can be most helpful to you. Ask for what you need, and don’t be afraid to receive the support. You may be surprised at how relieved your teammates feel when they finally have a concrete way to return the favor.
“Sometimes, teams are moving so fast and are so focused on results, they don’t take time to talk as a team about what’s happening,” says leadership expert Karin Hurt, author of the blog Let’s Grow Leaders. If no one is articulating their feelings and everything seems to be going great, says Hurt, negative patterns get embedded and can be hard to reverse.”
Welcome to the Holiday Edition of the Frontline Festival: Expert Advice on Gifts and Giving. In addition to sharing their posts, I invited each thought leader to share their “leadership gift” in one or two words.
Engaging a Giving Spirit
Jon Mertz,Thin Difference shares The Unboxed Life: Giving To lead more fully, we need to unbox our life and engage our giving spirit. When we do this, we become more connected to our true self, our true mission, and our community. John’s Gift: “Listening well.” Follow Jon @thindifference
New to the Festival, Bernie Nagle,ZunZhong brings us BlessingState – Sharing Our Gifts We transition from spirit to physical existence, purposely endowed with an abundance of gifts. Our mission as physical beings is to share our gifts to depletion. Benie’s gift: “Empathy.” Follow Bernie @altrupreneur.
Regina Verow, Creatively Conscious, reminds us give ourselves the gift of rest this holiday in her post True Gifts. Stay tuned for the Creatively Concscious meets Let’s Grow Leaders collaborative Xmas music video on Dec. 23rd along a similar vein. Worth checking back here for a holiday giggle. Regina’s gift: “Creativity” Follow Regina @ReginaVerow.
Joy and Tom Guthrie,Vizwerx Group, share Leadership Gifts (pic right) Follow Joy and Tom @VizwerxGroup Joy’s gift, “Vision.” Follow Joy @Joy_Guthrie.
New to the Festival, Barbara Kimmel,Trust Across America offers her gift, Twelve Months of Trust for 2014 With the right plan, any leader can build trust! Trust Across America – Trust Around the World offers this 2014 gift to all leaders – twelve months of trust-building activities. Barbara’s gift: “Building Organizational Trust.” Follow Barbara @BarbaraKimmel.
Julie Pierce,Empowered By Pierce, brings us 3 Empowering Gifts for Those You Lead Seriously considering gifting your team with Duck Dynasty bobbleheads this Christmas? Leadership Coach Julie Pierce comes to the rescue with 3 thoughtful and empowering gifts for those you lead. Julie’s gift: “Powerful questions.” Follow @julie_pierce
Lolly Daskal Lead From Within, offers The GIft of Receiving She inspires us to be more than great givers, but to also accept the gift of receiving? Lolly’s Gift: “Lead with heart; lead with love; lead from within” Follow Lolly@LollyDaskal.
Joan Kofodimos,Anyone Can Lead, shares How Hardship Creates Leaders In my experience, some of the greatest gifts don’t initially look like gifts at all. This post considers how hardships are a gift to us as leaders, if we can open to the lessons they offer. Joan’s gift: “The ability to honor one’s true purpose.” Follow Joan @JoanKofodimos.
Mike Henry Sr., Lead Change Group, shares the The Zen of Employee Motivation One of our best posts this year on the importance of understanding everyone is a volunteer. As a result, their energy, skills and effort are gifts, given to you, the leader of the effort. David M. Dye challenges us to remember to treat everyone as a volunteer and to appreciate the gift they give us when they join! Mike’s gift: “Years of experience leaning how to influence without position.” Follow Mike @mikehenrysr.
Bill Benoist, Leadership Heart Coaching, offers The Gift of Leadership Looking for that special gift this holiday season? Something meaningful. Something that will make an impact. Something that will be remembered. I know of a special gift, but it’s not one I can give you. Bill’s gift: “Trust.” Follow Bill @leadershipheart.
New to the Festival, Tracy Shroyer,TracyShroyerPhD.com, brings us No Longer a Passenger An event that initially felt like punch in the gut eventually changed me for the better. Has something happened in your life that may have upset you at first, but then you realized it was a real blessing because it helped you to change for the better? Tracy’s gift is “Being genuine.” Follow Tracy @tshroyer2.
Lisa Kohn,Thoughtful Leaders, shares The Value in Giving There are many gifts that we receive, for which we can be grateful. But the greatest gift is the ability to give. This month is a wonderful time to give – to give actual gifts and to give of ourselves: our time, our attention, our friendship, our love, and our support. May you practice giving and have a month full of gifts! Lisa’s gift: “The ability to give.”Follow Lisa @ThoughtfulLdrs.
Skip Prichard,Leadership Insights, brings us What’s Your Yes What’s Your Yes Life is about discovering your gifts (your yes) not your limitations (your no). Learn how to be defined by your “yes”, your unique gifts that have you performing in your strength zone. Skip’s gift: “Expressing.” Follow Skip @SkipPrichard.
Wharton Professor, Adam Grant‘s research proves helping more leads to better performance and career success.
In his new book, Give and Take, Grant categorizes people as “takers,” “givers,” and “matchers.”
Takers are out for themselves. Matchers deal in reciprocity. Givers are people who give without expectations of something in return. Giving cultures drive performance. His research also shows that true “Givers” who survive the burnout risk, are extraordinarily succesful.
I reached out to Adam for advice on how best to apply his research. (He was happy to help.)
Adam, how do we change the culture?
He offers 3 ways
“Jim Collins famously argued that we need to get the right people on the bus, but he made an even more important point that’s often overlooked: we need to keep the wrong people off the bus. Research led by Roy Baumeister, Paul Rozin, and Will Felps shows that bad is stronger than good, in the sense that the negative effect of a bad apple on the barrel tends to outweigh the positive effect of a good apple. With this in mind, it may be especially valuable to screen out takers in the hiring process.”
“Studies suggest that 75-90% of all help exchanged in organizations starts with a request, yet many people hold back on seeking help because they’re worried about appearing incompetent or burdening others. To overcome these barriers, we need to make it clear that help-seeking is acceptable and encouraged.
Change Evaluation and Performance Management Processes Instead of evaluating and promoting based on individual results alone, we should also assess employees’ contributions to the success of those around them. That way, we might see more givers rise to the top, which will set the stage for them to serve as role models to employees at various levels.
Selection. Encouragement. Evaluation. What would you add?