‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌  ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ .
McKinsey & Company
Share this email LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Leading Off
Click to get this newsletter weekly
By nature, people act in ways that benefit others. Studies point to children’s innate predisposition to help others, as well as the evolutionary reasons many species exhibit “prosocial behaviors” and the positive links between generosity and well-being and happiness. These benefits can extend to the workplace, helping to reduce employee burnout and encouraging positive, healthy team dynamics. This week, let’s get into the spirit of giving and explore how to build a culture that spreads generosity throughout your workplace.
a person's arm with palm up
Create a durable, giving culture
Take a lesson from the NBA: a recent study shows that team players add 60 percent more value than selfish ball hogs (or, in organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s terms, takers). At work, generous colleagues, or givers, not only have an outsize impact on their own teams’ effectiveness but also help their organizations perform better on virtually every metric, from profits and costs to satisfaction and retention of both employees and customers. But does generosity at work come at a cost? Grant’s research shows that givers represent an organization’s best and worst performers—a sign that those who are overly generous, those who consistently go the extra mile, may be experiencing burnout. But the answer isn’t to give in to a culture of takers. Rather, leaders should do the opposite, weeding out takers and creating an equilibrium between givers and “matchers”—those who tend to subscribe to quid pro quo thinking. How can leaders find the right balance? First, lead by example, playing the role of “chief help seeker” so others feel comfortable asking for the help they need. Next, encourage givers to set boundaries and find small ways to make an impact, including five-minute favors or more efficient ways to share knowledge and resources. Want to find out where you fall on the giver–taker spectrum? Take this quiz.
“We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.”
Aristotle, a philosopher of virtue ethics, highlights the importance of identifying and practicing the character traits we wish to embody in “the right amount, at the right time, tailored to the situation at hand.” As leaders continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and other complex and uncertain situations, this is the “right time” to consciously practice traits like generosity and kindness and weave them into the fabric of your leadership approach.
Tim Welsh
A learning culture—one that embraces more human elements at work—is key to encouraging generosity in the workplace. Tim Welsh, vice chairman of consumer and business banking at U.S. Bank, does this by “trying to create an environment where each and every person can thrive.” Such a culture, according to Welsh, “depends upon mission and purpose, generosity, psychological safety, the absence of fear, and so on—a lot of which can only be established by working together.” And leaders play a pivotal role.
That’s the percentage gap in US college graduates’ pay by their early 40s by gender, with men outearning women, according to US Census Bureau data. What starts out as a small earnings gap grows as each group peaks in their careers. Economic historian and Harvard professor Claudia Goldin explores the culprits behind this inequality in her book Career and Family: Women’s Century-Long Journey toward Equity. She points to the idea of “greedy work”—jobs where workers are rewarded for long hours and giving 110% to their jobs—as perpetuating inequality by leading women toward less demanding (and lower paying) roles to accommodate their caretaking responsibilities. What can leaders do to rebuff this trend? Start by building greater flexibility into your organization, addressing the lack of backup support and built-in redundancy for many roles, and learning from the productive work-from-home practices that many remote employees have developed.
person sitting in a chair
There’s a new reality in town, and it’s called uncertainty. Jokes aside, if we’ve learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent crises, it’s that business-as-usual leadership will no longer cut it. Our research points to four qualities—awareness, vulnerability, empathy, and compassion—that are critical to helping leaders get back to their fundamental role: making a positive difference in people’s lives. By first tuning into your own reactions and emotions, you can then turn toward others, generously and vulnerably, offering greater support. For some managers, this may mean becoming more of a coach. With an eye toward facilitating employees’ development and growth, leaders can role model the behaviors they believe will help their teams flourish.
Lead generously.
— Edited by Dana Sand, an editorial production manager in McKinsey’s Cleveland office
Click to get this newsletter weekly
McKinsey & Company
Follow our thinking
LinkedIn Twitter Facebook
Share these insights
Did you enjoy this newsletter? Forward it to colleagues and friends so they can subscribe too.
Was this issue forwarded to you? Sign up for it and sample our 40+ other free email subscriptions here.
Copyright © 2021 | McKinsey & Company, 3 World Trade Center, 175 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007