When Generosity Goes too Far

Railroad Tracks

Ineffective leaders give without expecting return. Generosity motivates indulgence when you don’t expect response.

One-way relationships between
capable people are sick.

Someone needs a favor. Generously meet their request, if you can. Adapt the schedule. Assign help. Shift deadlines.


Expect two-way relationships. Call for reciprocity. After pouring into their cup expect them to pour back.

Basic rule:

Give first without expecting return. Next time, expect return.

Say, “I’ll be glad to help you with this.  By the way, would you mind helping me with?” Find something even if you have to create it. Call them to adapt to you in some way.

Giving to others establishes connection. Receiving in return demonstrates the value of what you give.

Receiving from others, also demonstrates your value as person. It shows respect. People won’t respect you if you don’t expect return on your generosity. They come to expect it, not respect it. Appreciation falls.

Help others appreciate your generosity
by receiving generosity.


After giving, if they are capable but refuse to return generosity, stop giving. Go by the book. Don’t bend a rule. Stop making allowances.

How have you seen generosity backfire?

How can leaders establish reciprocity?