Summer Leadership Series - Challenge #3: Are you Giving to Give or Giving to Get?

July 31, 2018

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We are full swing into summer and also our summer series on leadership and management!  If you missed either of the first two blogs, here they are:


give and get phrase made from metallic letterpress on dark jeans background

Thanks to your responses to both blogs!  Here are a few to share with you:  

  • "Loved this post. I have had a few bad managers and you're right, they teach you A LOT... you just have to get through it and out the other side and the perspective is always helpful."  
  • "Such excellent principles here. Enabling is not good. Best line: 'There is a clear line between coaching and doing.'  I have sure learned that the hard way more than once. Now...I send encouraging texts, maybe a suggestion here and there...but once they've been taught, they gotta learn to swim on their own.  
  • "Kate, as always I enjoy reading these posts.  In this case it's particularly timely as I've made the decision to leave my company, in part for the reason you address here."  

This month we'll focus on the topics of giving, getting and being predictable

During my last tour in Cincinnati I worked for quite a few different bosses over the course of seven years, and all but one were very predictable.  A few were very talented and cared about their folks.  A couple were not as talented, but really good people. And one was downright mean.  A bully.  However, with each of these leaders, I knew what I was getting.  Even with the bully, I knew what was coming.  While not enjoyable, at least I wasn't surprised.  

Predictable.  I believe this is a critical part of being a good manager/leader.  Being clear on what's important, translating that into expectations which are understandable, and then being consistent how you respond when folks meet/miss those expectations.  This allows people to do their job better, spend less time trying to figure out how to "manage their boss," and often risk more/fear less.  I was so passionate about this as a manager that during all my join ups with new folks I gave them a one page playbook on me.  How I think, how I work, my leadership principles.  As well as expectations - both of me and from me.  And while it didn't cover everything, it was a good start.  It built some trust. It was a good way to begin to develop the relationship.   

The one boss I worked for during my last tour in Cincinnati that wasn't predictable was a frustrating experience.  Largely because I thought he had my back, but he didn't.  I thought he was predictable.  But he wasn't.  I thought he really cared about me and my career, but in the end I was fooled.  He was focused on himself.  His career.  While I thought he was a giver, he was really a taker.  Making people believe he was a good guy, when in reality he was a selfish guy.  Focused on his promotion.  And once that occurred, he was gone.  Although I was both disappointed and a bit embarrassed that I was fooled, it was once again good learning from a bad manager!  

Which leads me to the next question for you this month.  Are you a giver or a taker?  Do you give to give or give to get?  Or only give in proportion to what you get?  Quid-pro-quo.  I believe in the law of generosity.  To give.  I believe it really is better to give than receive.  But what I've discovered is that I am not always as clean on this as I think I am.  In some cases I do give to give.  But in others, I was clearly giving to get.  Giving with an unstated and sometimes unconscious expectation that I would be receiving similar treatment in kind.  It was a difficult revelation for me, but one I am grateful for.  It has helped me get back on the path to pure giving.  No strings attached, but still boundaries to be put in place (more on this topic next month!)     

Summer Leadership Series - Challenge #3:

  1. Would your people say you are predictable?  Are they crystal clear on your expectations and confident in your consistent response?
  2. Are you giving to give or giving to get?   
Kate Johnson
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