what's in for me unquintessential leadershipRecently I posted on the rampant narcissism and entitlement that pervades society, including most people in leadership positions, today.

The song in the video above, “What Have You Done For Me Lately?,” by Janet Jackson kept coming back to me as I’ve continued to think about the specific attitudes that characterize entitlement and narcissism, and this post will discuss a riff on this attitude, which is “What’s in it for me?”

The driving mindset behind “What’s in for me?” is simple and selfish. It translates into “I’m not going to do anything that doesn’t benefit or reward me.” It is manifested in many ways, a few of which we’ll look at today. 

One the primary places where this attitude and mindset exists is in modern sales and marketing operations. It is a key phrase that both salespeople and marketing specialists use when they are talking to customers, either in person or via media.

It’s rather duplicitous, though. On the surface, it seems to be selfless in appealing to customers’ narcissism and entitlement only. However, it’s revealing of the sellers’ mindset because when customers buy, sellers make money and profits, so sellers are always asking “What’s in it for me?” as well.

One of the ever-popular sales/marketing techniques where this attitude is blatantly revealed is pyramid or multilevel marketing (MLM) sales (also known as schemes).

Multilevel Marketing Pyramid SalesThese kinds of sales depend on a tiered sales system, where the top person in the tier gets paid every time everybody under them buys something. If the person has salespeople on their tier, then those salespeople get paid every time their customers order, and the top person on the tier gets paid as well.

In other words, every single sale in that tier amounts to “What’s in it for me?” That is a primary reason why MLM salespeople consistently have so much aggressive and repetitive marketing and advertising for products that are sold this way.

That is also why there are a plethora of “sounds-too-good-to-be-true” (remember what your parents taught you about this statement), unprovable, deceptive, and outright dishonest claims around many of the products sold using this method.

And, of course, the parent companies for these MLM products make a fortune on the backs of their salespeople (independent distributors).

Why?

Because the MLM salespeople do all the marketing, all the advertising, and all the legwork for new customers, and the cost to the parent company is minimal compared to direct sales and marketing costs for non-MLM companies.

This is the unquintessential leadership attitude of “What’s in it for me?” at its worst and most obvious.

What's In It For Me? Unquintessential Leader MindsetBut it would be a mistake to assume that this is not the mindset in the majority of organizations today, because unquintessential leadership abounds, and this is the unwritten and unspoken mantra that is the underpinning of that leadership.

Would it surprise you, though, if I told you that the “What’s in it for me?” attitude is not just a prevailing organizational attitude, but an increasingly prevalent individual and personal attitude as well? That means we – you and I – are very susceptible to having and operating by this unquintessential leadership mindset in both our private and public lives.

What does it look like in us as individuals? That’s what you and I, as people who are striving to be quintessential leaders, need to be able to identify so that we can ensure that it’s not an attitude that we have and live our lives by.

Let’s ask some questions to find out what this mindset looks like in us as individuals:

  1. Do we notice people in genuine need everywhere in our lives?
  2. Do we routinely and proactively offer to help people in genuine need (time, money, effort, etc.)?
  3. Do we help people in genuine need without expecting anything in return?
  4. Do we help people in genuine need without holding it over their heads, now or in the future?
  5. Would we offer to buy a stranger something to eat if they ask us for money for food?
  6. Would we give a stranger the coat or sweater we’re wearing if they are out in the cold without either?
  7. Would we be willing to share our last bit of food, heat, and clothing with a stranger who is also hungry, cold, and underdressed for the weather?

If we answered “no” or “it depends” to any or all of these questions, then we need to examine our attitudes for the unquintessential leadership “what’s in it for me?” mindset that has somehow begun to creep into our autopilot programming.

Obviously, none of us as individuals can take care of all the genuine needs that exist in the world. But within our little spheres of the world, we can certainly make a conscious and continual effort to do what we are able when we’re able.

And that means that we, as quintessential leaders, should always be proactively looking for genuine needs that we can fill.

When is the last time we cleaned out our family’s drawers and closets and donated the clothes, shoes, etc. that we don’t wear anymore to a homeless shelter or to a battered women’s shelter?

When is the last time we went – and took our kids – to visit homebound elderly people we know or elderly people in an assisted living facility or a nursing home? Many of these people have no visitors, including, sadly, their own families, at all and life, as they end it, is alone and lonely.

Selfless GivingThese are just a few examples. We should be able to come up with many more and take action to help freely and selflessly, because that’s the opposite of the “What’s in it for me?” attitude.

While these questions deal with our private lives, we also should be doing the same thing in our public lives.

When is the last time we had a conversation with our team members just to see how they’re doing and to see if they have personal needs that we can help out with?

A good example is the increasing number of employees who have a fulltime job at our organizations and also have a fulltime job at home as caregivers not just for their spouses and children, but additionally for their aging parents as well.

We could organize the rest of our team to provide meals for the employees and their families two or three nights a week (this could be as simple as a casserole and a salad made on Sunday and brought to work on Monday).

We could see if there are errands like grocery shopping or picking up medications at the pharmacy that we can do for the employees to cut down on the number of things they have to do in addition to working fulltime and being a extended family caregiver fulltime.

Again, this is just one example. As quintessential leaders, we should be looking for these areas to serve – because that’s what selfless giving is – others around us everywhere in our lives.

So it’s time for each us to look in the mirror of our lives and ask which of these questions defines our mindsets and attitudes: “What’s in for me?” or “What can I do for you?”

If the question is the first, then we need to make changes. If the question is the second, then there’s always room to improve.

How are we doing?

 

 

 

Comments
  1. […] yet we don’t hear and we don’t see. It simply doesn’t register with us because we’re so engrossed in getting what’s ours and living a great life that we simply block out anything that doesn’t get us toward that […]

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  2. […] (and this seems to be an increasingly rarer “if” in our “what’s in it for me?” society, where most people either simply don’t care, are totally oblivious to the needs of others, or […]

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  3. […] a society where unquintessential leadership abounds, as well as entitlement and “it’s all about me,” the selflessness required for this kind of investment has all but […]

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  4. […] Unquintessential leaders, on the other hand, see people as things that need to be managed – hence, my tagline: “Lead people. Manage things.” – and treat people as inanimate objects who are useful – and visible (they become invisible if they present a possible impediment or problem) – if they’re not in the way, quiet (even if it is quiet desperation, which would go unnoticed), and producing something that benefits the unquintessential leader. […]

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  5. […] these things, which have kicked our natural tendancy as humans to be narcissistic, selfish, and self-absorbed into high gear with the ubiquitous intrusion of technology into our 24/7 lives, […]

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  6. […] everybody else is compared to me.” “Follow me because I’m a winner.” “Look at me and how great I am compared to everyone […]

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  7. […] Politics of any kind – business, organizational, social, governing, etc. – is a manifestation of unquintessential leadership. It’s about pride, arrogance, vanity, greed, and power. It’s simply about “What’s In It for Me?” […]

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  8. […] believe that we are important. Self-promotion is very much a symptom of narcissism and self-absorption, but it is also a symptom of insecurity and […]

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  9. […] are wrong, then we will not be invested at all (we simply see what we believe, often erroneously, what’s in it for us) we will be stopped in our tracks every time even the slightest up or down occurs and, at some […]

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  10. […] people, and why so many people believe it. That is why most content is superficial, narcissistic (it’s all about me), inane, and […]

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