[December 18, 2018] Have you ever met a person who did something for you but insisted you return an item or service of at least equal value to them? I would venture to say that most people expect to be compensated in some way. With good leaders, however, it’s not about quid pro quo1 but about accomplishing a task or mission.
A close friend of mine taught me a lesson long ago about the fundamentals of true friendship. Wilson and I were together since before we could even remember; the same age, homes next to one another, same interests, and wants. Wilson and I were always getting into fights with each other but, at the end of the day, we were always friends.
He’d taught me that when gave a gift or did me a favor, that he did not expect anything in return, ever. As a teenager, he explained that all his life was consumed with people who wanted him to give them an item or service of value if they had done something for him. In other words, there was always a quid pro quo in the relationships he was in.
Wilson hated it. When he did something for me or anyone else in our group of friends, he didn’t want anything in return. Being a “good Christian” was what he wanted. Giving is what being a good person is about and that means giving to others without want or desire for anything in return. Wilson wanted to create goodwill for others. His reward was the satisfaction that others were happy.
To this day I believe Wilson helped me become a successful man. As a leader, I applied what he taught me in my leadership positions. I’ve never been so selfish to think someone would pay me back if I’d done something special for them. I do it for the pleasure of knowing they are better off in some way and perhaps they will give to others.
Real leadership is about creating goodwill for others and expecting nothing in return. For leaders, it’s not about quid pro quo and never will be.
- In common law, quid pro quo indicates that an item or a service has been traded in return for something of value, usually when the propriety or equity of the transaction is in question.