Do you feel taken for granted and undervalued at work?

Outstanding leadership is not about being nice. Like they say, if you want to make people feel good, sell ice cream.

Bhavna Dalal
Updated: Jan 15, 2021 05:26:56 PM UTC

Do you often feel that you are an incredibly diligent and a cooperative person at work, someone who always tries to help other people and teams? This practice has made you popular and very amiable to work with. You rarely get into conflicts and either concede defeat or offer whatever others ask for. You believe you are generous and don't want to work from a personal agenda but for a greater good.

Could you be giving away too much too quickly and easily?
Picture this scenario. Sam stayed up an extra hour to compile the information for a project his team was involved in. This was valuable data he had gathered. He then sent an email with this information, ahead of a big global meeting to the people presenting. Sure he included all the stakeholders in the email he sent out. But mind you, no one had asked him for this information. When the time came for the presentation, the Japanese business leader, who was presenting, utilised Sam's information without giving him any credit. This made Sam angry. No one had asked Sam to send that data in, but he felt that he should have been acknowledged. On reflecting further, he realised that he was probably giving a little too freely.

Outstanding leadership is not about being nice. Like they say, if you want to make people feel good, sell ice cream.

It's about valuing yourself first. If you don't value your time, effort, and contributions, how can you expect others would? You show the value of your expertise in small interactions throughout the day, as Sam did. I also understand it is hard for givers to put restraints on these qualities, which society considers virtues. However, people with such qualities must beware that giving away your energy endlessly depletes it. You cannot pour from an empty cup. It is essential to recognise the value of your offerings and then impart it wherever and whenever they are beneficial to others and you.

This absolutely does not mean you stop being helpful. What it means is that when you think you are going out of your way and being righteous above and beyond your call of duty, think about how it may be hurting you. Where else can you use that energy and time which will serve you and your team better?

Quite honestly, don't expect to be applauded if you keep handing out your resourcefulness liberally. At some point, people will start taking you for granted, and that does not feel good.

While it is not apparent at first, it is an underlying need to be liked and accepted by others that makes us over-eager to give at the expense of inconveniencing ourselves when not needed. As human beings, belonging to groups and being accepted by them is so intrinsically programmed that it is hard to escape it. It is imperative to understand that by becoming aware of this behaviour, you can be more strategic about how, when, and to whom it makes most sense to give. Believe it or not, this is a leadership skill that many people in upper-middle management have to learn. Your overused strengths soon become deterrents and obstacles. The sooner you recognise it, the better leader you can become.

A person determines their value consciously and subconsciously, and that is how they show up in the world. Suppose you have been feeling like you have been thrown under the bus lately or compromised for the things you have been offering, step up and start appreciating all the things you didn't give yourself enough credit for and own up your value and contributions.

The author is Founder and CEO of Talent Power Partners, a leadership development company based in Bengaluru

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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