Reciprocity means a mutual exchange, giving back after receiving, whether ideas, benefits or rewards. We use the concept of reciprocity all the time to build strong, respectful, trusting relationships.
Without reciprocity we would live in an “all about me” world. How ugly would that be! That really unpleasant attitude reminds me of the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax, in which the environment was completely destroyed because of a lack of caring and giving back.
The concept is important in the business world. I know a woman who had worked hard all year long, doing a superb job and yet, didn’t receive any positive feedback or signs of appreciation throughout the year. She looked forward to her annual review, but at the beginning of it, her employer told her bluntly, “I am not going to talk about all the good things you have done this year, I am just going to tell you what you didn’t do well.” The outcome was a demotivated top performer, who left the organization within six months of that review. The company missed out because they failed to build the basic foundation of good leadership reciprocity.
I have heard some leaders justify this behaviour saying, “Why should I thank them or show appreciation – it’s their job!” But that’s a serious error in leadership. Individuals who work for an organization have inherent responsibilities. Leaders also have inherent responsibilities. Reciprocity is a two-way process. Leaders should focus regularly on improving their ability to coach, guide, support, and develop their people.
In every positive interaction in life, regardless of the circumstances, you have to give to get back. Start now to consider what your team or your peers need from you and seek ways to satisfy that need. Give to others before asking others to give to you, because if you support and care for others they will do the same for you.
September 7, 2011
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