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How Giving Back Can Boost Your Career

April 2, 2013

If you offer help to others, will it help you get ahead in your career?

Adam Grant, professor of organizational psychology at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, thinks so. In a recent New York Times article, he discusses his theory that being of service can advance your career as well as make you more productive.

In his new book, Give and Take, Grant argues that the greatest untapped source of motivation for employees is a sense of service to others. When you think about how your work contributes to other peoples’ lives, you’re more likely to perform better on the job.

The proof is in the numbers. Grant conducted a study at the offices of travel book publisher, Let’s Go, the travel-book publisher whose revenues help fund scholarships for Harvard University students. The staff heard a testimonial from a student who had directly benefited from the sale of their books. After hearing the story, within the next month, the sales team brought in 171% more revenue than the month prior using the same sales script.

How can giving to others ultimately help you gain? In the law of reciprocity, when you offer help without expecting anything in return, the person you help is more likely to want to return the favor, even if you don’t ask for it.

According to Grant, the most successful givers are those who offer help with high concern for others but also in their own self-interest. They are strategic in giving, assisting other givers as well as matchers, and are cautious about giving to takers.

As many Health Coaches know, enjoying your work helps satisfy your need for primary food. Having a career that you love that also helps you make a difference in the lives of others can bring more satisfaction to the time that you spend working. In essence, work can feel more like play when you feel engaged. And as it turns out, being generous of spirit may ultimately benefit you, too.

Have you ever benefited from giving back?