Givers Gain – A Leader’s Perspective on Getting the Most Out of Giving

As a leader and manager, I've had many experiences shape my values and beliefs when it comes to leading.  However none have quite had the impact on me, as much as the philosophy of "givers gain."  Let me explain...

Many years ago, when I first got into management, I found I was often frustrated by what I felt was a lack of accomplishment.  Or at least, the same sense of accomplishment I had experienced as an individual contributor.

As a consultant, I felt my accomplishments were largely based on completing a project or a significant milestone.  Once my project was completed (and the customer was happy), we all gave each other high-fives and it felt good.  Every few weeks, I would finish another project, high-fives again - all goodness!

However, now as a manager of consultants, there was a certain emptiness I felt as these were now the accomplishments of others.  I could only live vicariously through their results (serious downer).

It wasn’t until a few years into management, I was first introduced to the concept of “givers gain.”  Givers gain is the belief that when people help others, they gain more out of the experience than the person they are helping.  The satisfaction can be derived by helping others reach a lofty goal, clearing out an obstacle preventing success, standing-up for an employee or simply giving some positive feedback when a person is feeling down.

In your own life, think about the times when you have gone out of your way to give to others.  Let's look at a few examples:

  • How do you feel when you take the time to stop by someone’s office to tell them happy birthday? What about when you seem them smile after you say it?
  • How do you feel when you recognize someone's efforts on a project (that have largely gone unnoticed by most), then you see the sense of pride well up in their eyes?
  • How do you feel when you have the opportunity to offer someone a new job?

On a personal note... I know how excited my son was the very first time he caught a ball.  He smiled from ear to ear, then shouted (at the top of his lungs) "hooray!!!"  I’m not sure how he exactly felt… but I know I felt like I was on top of the world.  I picked him up and swung him high in the air.  We exchanged high-fives, then both ran around the yard acting like crazy kids (only he had an excuse).

Of course, deep down this was his accomplishment.  However, I had worked with him to keep his eye on the ball  and to see it come into his hands - I had helped.  To know my helping him catch a ball (that clearly meant a lot to him) generated so much pride and self-confidence for him.  As a father – that was priceless.  That's “givers gain!”

And while this philosophy works for anyone (in any walk of life), it can be especially powerful as a leader and manager - where you have the ability to impact so many people.

Well... fast forward nearly 10 years.  I have come to feel a sense of accomplishment in various ways as a leader and manager, but none have impacted me as much the mindset as this simple philosophy - givers gain.

QUESTION:  As a leader, what do you do to feel a sense of accomplishment?  In what ways have you used the givers gain approach to lead?

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