Ziglar’s most famous piece of advice was that you can get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. His insight is generous, idealistic, but also counterintuitive. It’s antithetical to everything our ego tells us about making a name for ourselves. Wait a minute, you’re telling me that the best way to elevate my value at this company is to elevate my team first? Absolutely. This approach is what separates the employees who satisfy the most basic expectation, from the company leaders who exemplify the best the team can realistically hope for. And naturally, it feels easier to operate selﬁshly within our little silo, in the hopes of beating out the others by inﬂating our value above theirs. We have to protect our turf, right? But the problem is, this approach only works to create short term security. The more sustainable approach is to invert the process by elevating our team first. That way it’s a win for everybody.
RISING TIDE — Expanding your own value by elevating the whole team
Where are you on this continuum? To what degree are you focused solely on your own prestige, versus that of your team? Nobody is perfect, of course. Ziglar himself had his moments. But all of us could all benefit from sliding up the scale. Here’s an exercise. Pretend you have a performance review coming up next month. Imagine one of your company executives is asking the following questions about you. Does this person execute ideas, but also help put others into better position to execute? Have they grown their skills, but also helped contribute to a platform that exposes other people’s potential? Are they solving problems, but also raising the team’s collective ability to deal with problems? Have they originated a tool or process that accelerates everyone’s mutual success? What about inventing an entirely new ritual or artifact that expands the team’s ability to do their work? Look, nobody does this one hundred percent of the time. They can’t. The selfish gene runs too deep. But the funny thing about helping others in the workplace is, it not only makes us look good, it also makes us feel good.
Elevating others boosts our own happiness, not just our value. Several professors researched this very issue in a peer reviewed journal. Their study posed the following question. Employees with a desire to help others provide benefits to their organization, clients, and fellow workers, but what do they get in return? The professors argued that the prosocial desire to help others is a basic human goal that matters to an individual’s happiness. Who knew? Elevate your team, expand your value.
Ask anyone who’s ever worked at a startup before, this stuff really does work. Focus on building enterprise value. Create chains of events that carry positive meaning for team members triggers an upward spiral. How are you expanding your value by elevating your team?
Help put others into better position to execute
Boost your own happiness, not just your own value
Raise the team’s collective ability to deal with problems
Create chains of events that carry positive meaning for team members and trigger upward spirals.