"You can have anything in life you want, if you'll just help enough other people get what they want." - Zig Ziglar

The above quote from one of the master motivators and sales trainers of all time came back to me earlier this month as I was reading Andrea Davis' story about Christine Carstens, our 2012 Employee Benefits Professional of the Year (Sept. 1 EBN, p. 36). And again as I read the accomplishments of our Adviser of the Year, Greg Golub, in the September issue of our sister publication, Employee Benefit Adviser.

What these two benefit professionals have in common with each other, and with many of you, is a forceful desire to actively serve the wants and needs of others. As a benefits decision-maker, I realize this often puts you in a difficult position. You must be responsive to employees and their dependents, who depend on benefits for their health, financial well-being and peace of mind. But you also report to the Chief Financial Officer or other members of senior management who are concerned about benefit cost and human capital management.

Aligning all these wants and needs can be tremendously difficult, and sources tell me many organizations are showing signs of strain. When tensions rise, the natural instinct might be to go into a defensive crouch and cover your back. Moreover, those reactions are contagious and can infect an organization with surprising speed. Despite those tendencies - or perhaps because of them - extra effort must be applied to understanding the wants and needs of others, communicating about them, and devising ways to get everyone pulling in the same direction.

Sometimes that's a matter of connecting the dots. For example, a hot topic among benefit managers today is engagement - how to get employees to pay attention to their benefits, make wise choices and participate. But it doesn't stop there. Building employee engagement also builds loyalty, management studies show. The research also shows that loyal workers are more productive workers, and more productive workers make companies more profitable.

In other words, helping employees get what they want (whether they know it or not) also helps senior managers get what they want (whether they know it or not). And helping all these members of the organization get what they want will allow you to get what you want, such as a sense of personal and professional accomplishment.

Try this mindset on for size, and see whether the rewards of serving others come back to you in full.

Please send comments, suggestions and story queries to Managing Editor Andrea Davis at andrea.davis@sourcemedia.com.

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