An all acronym title is new for me, but I suspect at least one of these acronyms is familiar to you.  Let me spell this out in more detail.

  • WIFM-What’s in it for me?
  • WIFY-What’s in it for you?
  • WIYC-Which is your choice?

I have spoken often this year about leadership and in most cases my presentation focuses on one of two areas, if not on both of them.  The first area of focus is on strengths, or on StrengthsFinder, an assessment that was developed by Donald Clifton and that is now supported and marketed by Gallup.  StrenghtsFinder helps anyone learn more about their best talents when compared to a well researched library of 34 talents. The second subject I speak on often this year is Servant Leadership.  This long-standing leadership theory was first brought to live by Donald Greenleaf and is now supported by the Greenleaf Foundation.  Servant leadership supports the notion that leaders should be other focused and spend their time and efforts in meeting the needs of others.

Our world is full of individuals who typically focus on WIFM when they make most decisions.  Why not?  Many of us are in situations where we make choices that affect our daily lives and if we are dealing with the lower levels from a Maslow perspective, survival and safety needs, then WIFM makes perfect sense.

Many leaders look past this short-term perspective and consider WIFY.  Many of the best leaders I know think first of the team or the organization and as a result the criteria they consider when making decisions might be a little different than those we described earlier in the WIFM paragraph.

Let me also say that all WIFM decisions are not bad and that all WIFY decisions are not good.  If you see this between the lines in what I write, they please erase that from your mind.  There are times for all of us when we MUST choose WIFM in our manner of making choices or decisions.  The challenge comes in when leaders use WIFM in the vast majority of their decisions versus using WIFY.  This kind of thinking is inwardly focused and will not produce the best long-term results for the team or the organization.  It will also set up challenges regarding team unity, team rewards and team success.

Our last acronym is one I just threw in, maybe created for the first time today.  WIYC is something we all handle every day, possibly many times.  We each make choices that affect ourselves and those we lead or serve.  If we are students or disciples of the Greenleaf thinking, that leaders focus first on the needs of others, than WIYC usually is skewed in the WIFY direction.  If we are not supporters of Servant Leadership than we will make most of our decisions in the WIFM direction.

This simple diagram should help in your understanding:

Where do you reside on this continuum?


We will talk more about how to  move from one side to another and when to do so in the next post.

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