Give and Take

GiveIt’s probably rare that we think about what we do as Catholic leaders as “mergers and acquisitions,” but when I think about all of my attempts at collaboration, I see it all around me.

I spend a lot of time building collaborative relationships to help make our work in publishing and developing Catholic leaders successful. The scary part is that I can see very clearly when I am in “acquisition” mode, e.g., Could you share your mailing list? Will you be a sponsor/partner?

But what is it that I have to give to them?

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review (June 2016) got me thinking.

Companies that focus on what they are going to get from an acquisition are less likely to succeed than those that focus on what they have to give it. (This insight echoes one from Adam Grant, who notes in his book “Give and Take” that people who focus more on giving than on taking in the interpersonal realm do better, in the end, than those who focus on maximizing their own position.

So, what gets in the way of giving more than we take when we collaborate? What is it that needs to change in the way we even start the conversation to ensure that the relationship is fully two-way?


3 thoughts on “Give and Take

  1. Terry Modica

    Good questions! Thank you for raising this point. It surprises me how many Catholic ministry leaders I’ve approached to start a collaboration have said yes with some hesitation in their reply, and then I hear nothing more from them. I believe it’s important to offer the give when suggesting the take (for example, “You’ve got something important to say. I can help you spread it. Provide me with an article for my newsletter or blog, and I will provide you with free publicity by including a link to your ministry’s website.” I think a big part of the problem of why people have not taken me up on this offer is that they are very busy people, facing a daily challenge of getting just their own work done, and they don’t feel they can add to it by writing something for my ministry. However, I’m just as busy, and what motivates me to make time for collaborations is the witness it gives to the world that we who follow Christ are united.

    1. Post author

      It is amazing that our perception of collaboration from the perspective of the invitee is that sense of “now here’s another thing that I have to put my energy and time toward.” It seems like the true goal of collaboration is that energy is renewed for all participants and whatever the outcome is, it is more than the sum of the individual parts that any one of us could have contributed.

  2. Terry Modica

    Very true about the energy created by combined efforts produces more than we could accomplish alone!

    A disappointing example of failing to understand collaboration is often found on Facebook, which is an easy place to collaborate. Recently, a very famous Catholic writer/speaker posted on his FB page one of the works of my ministry without my permission. So, I posted a comment under it a thank-you for sharing our content, with an FYI, if anyone’s curious, the source of this is . It was quickly deleted. I tried a second time, making it clear that my intention is collaboration. It, too, was deleted soon after.

    What is missing from faith formation in the Church that could help people understand the value of collaborating? We who are educators have the opportunity to change this. What are some ideas on how to invite greater collaboration?


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