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“Great job…but”

Aug 19, 2016
By David Thompson

Categories: Leadership & Organizational Development

“Great job…but”

As a leader you are called to listen, share, guide, motivate and challenge – all for drawing the best team performance for your clients and company.

Adam Grant, in his book, “Give and Take,” describes two contrasting leadership styles. “Takers like to get more than they give, and they put their own interests ahead of others’ needs,” he says. “As they gain power, they pay less attention to how they’re perceived by those below them and believe they are entitled to pursue self-serving goals.” Takers, he adds, are more concerned with winning, pleasure, power and wealth.

Givers, on the other hand, focus more on helpfulness, responsibility, and compassion. “It takes time for givers to build goodwill and trust, but eventually they establish reputations and relationships that enhance success,” he says, explaining that giver qualities foster strong performances for the benefit of clients, the company, and the team.

Grant warns against appearing as a giver while actually leading as a taker. I remember a leader who attempted to emulate giver qualities in public, but was known as a taker. He would often remark to employees: “Great job! Excellent idea! Keep doing what you’ve been doing, but…” Those who knew him well advised that whatever this leader said after the word “but” was what he expected, regardless of the praise he communicated. And those “buts” were often self-serving.

What did the team soon realize about this leader? His focus was not fully on the health and success of the company. Rather, it was colored to build up his own career and individual wealth.

Do you say what you mean and mean what you say? Or, does your leadership, observed by others, indicate taker qualities such as shallow praise and too many “buts”?

Take a close look at your leadership style and consider how you can be more of a giver. The benefits are significant for everyone.

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