It may seem strange to hear someone who is helping you to develop a business strategy say… how can our over-arching vision be to grow this business in a way that puts other people first and gives generously in the process?
The author and speaker Simon Sinek talks about fulfilment at work and in business and how this can be best achieved when we help somebody else. We are not operating at our best and certainly not as fulfilled when we are focusing only on ourselves, he says.
In work, life and business, changing from an ‘I’ or ‘we’ focus.. to an ‘others’ focus can be a fulfilling way to operate. Arguably, it is how we are naturally programmed as human beings. We are social animals and we need each other. We need people and we function better when we keep people close. We feel better when we do something positive to help someone else.
Generosity is doing something for someone else and expecting nothing in return. And if we do something for someone else they tend to reciprocate. We are surrounded by people who need help and people who want to help. Comparative studies between human children and their young chimpanzee cousins show that while both will cooperate, human children will always help more. Children seem to be innate helpers. They act selflessly before the social norms of the day set in.
We are living through a strange time presently. One only needs to cast a glance across the Atlantic to see how a growing section of one particular country is placing higher value on selfies, sound-bites and tawdry exchanges, over real substance.
Can a giving business growth strategy lead to successful and profitable outcomes? In the book ‘The Go-Giver’ authors Bob Burg and John David Mann tell the story of a young professional (Joe) who is striving for success. Joe is ambitious, however somewhat self centered. His hard work and efforts are not paying off in terms of sales results. Following a disappointing quarter, he inadvertently seeks the mentorship of a mystical character called “The Chairman” to whom he has been referred.
Joe then embarks on a reluctant learning journey through meeting friends of “The Chairman” all of whom are described as successful givers. Through these interactions he learns of five so called laws of how to succeed in life… which are not what you might expect:
1. The Law of Value: “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”
2. The Law of Compensation: “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”
3. The Law of Influence: “Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first.”
4. The Law of Authenticity: “The most valuable gift you have to offer is your authentic self.”
5. The Law of Receptivity: “The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving”
A simple story with a happy successful ending of course. A story that can remind us, if we let it, that we are born helpers and givers and of our natural human traits which start with supporting before circling back to receiving (not the other-way around).
Could a more giving entrepreneurial society better address homelessness as an issue if there was the will? Sinek gives an example talking about engaging with a homeless person and changing their call to action sign from ‘help me’ ‘I’m homeless’ to one that read “If you only give once a month, please consider me next time..” Apparently the donations increased significantly in the two hours that followed. A different approach that wasn’t so ‘me’ centric but which had a more successful outcome. Is there a lesson here?
At a recent American Chamber event in Dublin on Growth Mindset and Lifelong Learning, I was heartened to hear how Intel are now carrying out performance reviews with employees. Beginning this year, employee reviews will ask only 2 questions. What have you done to help others to grow this year? And what have you done to grow yourself this year? Responses can be work related.. or not.
As with leadership. Being a leader isn’t necessarily about being in charge.. it should be about taking care of the people in your charge. Is it time to forget about “me” and “we” and develop a successful business and indeed life strategy that is empathetic and which puts others first? Should giving be part of your business growth strategy?
Giving credit where it’s due. Giving time. Giving silence and listening. Giving equity. Giving a customer more than they asked for. Giving support. Giving up when you need to. Giving ideas. Giving knowledge. Giving thanks. Giving value. Go give.