Articles

It All Comes Down To Taking Or Giving At Work

August 10, 2016 - By Wendy Lambourne, Director, MA Industrial and Organisation Psychology, Registered Psychologist with SA Medical & Dental Council

givetakeOver the last 13 months, I have been privileged to facilitate close to 30 one-day Legitimate Leadership workshops in two vastly different environments:

  • One of the largest non-government organisations (NGOs) in South Africa which has an objective to develop competencies in South African youth living in townships. The NGO employs 551 people in six centres, with its head office being in Johannesburg.
  • South Africa’s largest manufacturer of explosives initiating systems and technologies, supplying to the mining industry throughout Africa and certain places in South East Asia, South America, Europe, and most recently Australia.

Some 430-plus non-managers attended these workshops – including factory operators, artisans, technicians, cleaners, gardeners, cooks, security guards, teachers, counsellors, fund-raisers, marketers, lobbyists, etc.
With each group, great insights and moments were shared and this article is a brief account of these experiences.

So, what is Grow to Care about?

This is a programme designed by Legitimate Leadership that engages an individual’s willingness to contribute meaningfully to the organisation and to customers. It is for non-managers – in particular, those in the front line. It provides insight that serving cultivates the conditions for success, builds strong teams, and transforms you as a person at work.

A choice of Give or Take

In his book Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Adam Grant writes that according to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation (hard work), ability (talent), and opportunity (luck). He says, however, that there is a critical ingredient that is often neglected: a personal choice of claiming as much value as we can (Taking) or contributing value without worrying about what we receive in return (Giving).

He describes Takers as those who like to get more than they give, tilting reciprocity in their own favour, putting their own interests ahead of others’ needs, being competitive, self-promoting, self-focused, and having a need to be better than others.

Givers, on the other hand, tilt reciprocity in the other direction, preferring to give more than they get, being other-focused and paying more attention to what other people need from them without expecting anything in return. Givers simply strive to be generous in sharing their time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas and connections with other people who can benefit from them.

Grant says both Givers and Takers can and do achieve great success in all walks of life. However, when Givers succeed, the effect spreads and cascades, creating a ripple effect that enhances the success of people around them.

True giving: Generosity and Courage

One might be tempted to think that the prerequisite to being a true giver is extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice – to be part of an heroic league like the Mandelas, Ghandis, Kings etc. But according to Legitimate Leadership’s approach, giving is actually a personal choice. It is a willingness to give of things even if you have little (generosity) and being prepared to risk loss of self (courage). Giving is unconditional!

Wendy Lambourne, director of Legitimate Leadership, writes that “Intent is not an ability issue but rather a matter of the will and, as such, intent is a choice”. And your intent to give is guided by your personal values, your guiding principles for your life, as illustrated below.

Takers – Guiding Principles Givers – Guiding Principles
• Wealth (money, material possessions) Helpfulness (working for the well-being of others)
• Power (dominance, control over others) Responsibility (being dependable)
Pleasure (enjoying life) Social justice (caring for the disadvantaged)
Winning (doing better than others) Compassion (responding to the needs of others)

FROM: SHALOM SCHWARTZ’S GLOBAL STUDY OF VALUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES THAT MATTER TO PEOPLE IN DIFFERENT CULTURES.

The Grow to Care workshop delves into this topic and four approaches are presented:

  1. Consumerism – material things and lifestyle choices.
  2. Significance – ego, competitiveness, recognition, being liked.
  3. Virtuosity – pursuit of excellence is what I do.
  4. Leadership – serving others.

What participants have said about the workshop

  • I learnt that I shouldn’t always fight for my own benefit but to give generously and courageously so that the company will grow. By the company growing I am assured of my job security and my development. The important thing is to care about the company – so I will have self-growth. – Fortune
  • I learnt to be courageous and generous. I learnt to give and not always get all the time. To be positive and change my mindset. To be confident and stand up for what I believe in. – Phuti
  • I learnt to change my current attitude from being self-centred to being a contributor or contributing. I must contribute in changing or transforming my individualistic behaviour to be more of a team player. I learnt to share my wisdom and knowledge for others to achieve their job advancements. I am willing to change to be a role model and be helpful. To understand the current leadership style and be willing to support any required changes. – Vincent
  • Grow to Care workshop opened up my mind. Things are going to change. Forward we go. Thank you for the workshop. There are many things I need to change. The course has given me the courage to stand up and face challenges and have a positive mindset. I must work hard and be responsible for my future. – Paul
  • I learnt that powerful team leaders and team members give! I learnt to do things that benefit me and grow me. I learnt to be confident, caring, loving, supporting and not to judge others. – Nelly
  • I learnt about giving, to be courageous and loyal. I learnt to care about what I am going to give to the company. I learnt to be brave and to speak my mind. To reach my potential. To sacrifice and to be supportive and caring toward others. – Linah
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