Giving to others makes them feel good. We know that. Many of us recognize that giving is fulfilling for ourselves too–whether it’s the act of helping another or the resulting recognition, we often receive an intrinsic or extrinsic reward.


But what about giving as a business strategy? Not disingenuous giveaways or quid pro quo offers, but good ole fashion, no-strings-attached helpfulness. Being a giver focused on others doesn’t make you a chump, it makes you savvy. And now there’s a compilation of research to prove it, thanks to Adam Grant’s Give and Take (see my review on the right sidebar).


Grant asserts—and backs up with data—that “when giving starts to occur, it becomes the norm, and people carry it forward in their interactions with other people.” Givers succeed and create a ripple effect that enhances the success of people around them.


I see so many of my clients struggle with how much to give. They worry about sacrificing their success with generosity. But imagine if more of us started to give freely. Everyone benefits when we take care of each other.


Personally I am drawn to giving. And I believe that has helped connect me with other givers. As I write this I am three weeks post-op from major neck surgery, so I have been much more of a taker in these past weeks. To the dozens of friends, family members and acquaintances who have reached out with food, support, visits and flowers, I want to give back. I look forward to returning the gift (though hopefully under less painful circumstances)


With the approach of Thanksgiving, we are encouraged—almost trained—to reflect in thankfulness. We may help give food or shelter to those in need, but our focus tends to accentuate the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving. I submit to you that focusing on the giving will yield that much more for which to be thankful.

For most of my childhood and adolescence I wanted to be a writer. While my top choices were (1) eccentric novelist living in Paris, (2) prolific Rolling Stone reporter, or (3) jet-set Condé Nast travel writer, I would have settled for being a newspaper journalist. My parents were willing to pay for college tuition, but only for someone pursuing a “real job.”
In other words, not an aspiring writer.
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Instead of pooling our potential and leveraging the strengths of others, we sometimes compete for supremacy—perhaps not overall domination, but at least some agreement of where each has the ultimate say. Successful leaders recognize and yield to the power of others. And from that, they become more powerful.

Instead of relying on contingent rewards as a motivation strategy, offer employees some flexibility to accomplish tasks in their own way. This provides an opportunity to make the  job more fun. Drawing motivation from within—rather than focusing on an external prize—drives employees toward personal fulfillment and better business results.