Have you ever participated in volunteer work that left you feeling great? Delivering meals to shut-ins and those less fortunate left me feeling great recently. It also left me with a feeling of appreciation for what I have in life. Research backs up the warm fuzzy feeling you can get from giving to others. Michael Steger, Ph.D., conducted a study that concluded that helping others makes you feel happier. Another study, by psychologist Patricia Frazier at the University of Minnesota, concluded that when an individual’s sense of meaning is threatened, that sense of meaning can be restored by acts of generosity. And still another study, this one led by Wilhelm Hofmann, Ph.D., found that people enjoy a lasting sense of purpose when they do what they think is right. In other words, people lead a more meaning filled life when taking daily moral actions. This reinforces the express that “givers gain.”
There is another expression, “nice guys finish last.” That is exactly what Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School found. Grant’s research found givers bunched at the bottom of the success ladder. A givers’ trusting nature and willingness to sacrifice leaves them vulnerable to exploitation. What you may find surprising is that Grant also found givers bunched at the top of the success ladder. Admiration and loyalty can be won with a reputation of unselfishness. This creates long-term relationships that enable givers to reap tremendous rewards. A key element of givers at the top of the success ladder is their ability to know how others perceive them. Sharing credit is one thing, making sure others know you are sharing credit makes a difference.
Effective leaders understand the concept that givers gain. The most effective leaders practice the concept that givers gain.