Jeanne Bell: Moving from Extraction to Reciprocity in Work Relationships

Jeanne Bell: Moving from Extraction to Reciprocity in Work Relationships

“If we can shift from thinking of our organizational relationships as “human resources” to be managed—their capital to be extracted over the life of the relationship—and shift to a frame of deep reciprocity, we will find as leaders that it is indeed those relationships above all else that allow our organizations to accomplish the most extraordinary things.”– Jeanne Bell, MNA

Humanistic managers want our organizations to be more humane, more personally sustainable, and more conscious of the full humanity of the people with whom we work. These aspirations are shared with people working in the non-profit sector who face many of the same staffing challenges as for profit organizations.

In the most recent Humanistic Management Professionals Lunch and Learn, participants engaged in conversation to explore the differences between extractive and reciprocal workplace relationships– a topic that is near and dear to featured guest Jeanne Bell. The event was co-hosted by Jennifer Hancock (author of several award winning books and founder of Humanist Learning Systems) and Elizabeth Castillo (Assistant Professor at CISA – Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies at Arizona State University and affiliated faculty at the Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment). The full video of this Lunch and Learn can be found below (link here: )


About our guestJeanne Bell, MNA directs NPQ’s Advancing Practice program to advance critical conversations about nonprofit management and leadership. She is the former CEO of CompassPoint, where she stewarded the strategic evolution of the organization to focus on emerging leaders and emergent leadership practice with an explicit orientation to social change. She is the author of numerous articles on nonprofit leadership, strategy, and sustainability and co-author of several books, including most recently, The Sustainability Mindset (Jossey-Bass, 2015). Jeanne’s board leadership has included officer positions at the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and Intersection for the Arts. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Master of Nonprofit Administration program at the University of San Francisco’s School of Management.

Three keys takeaways:
1) Value reciprocity in your organization.
2) Pay attention to your onboarding process so that everyone is oriented to the organization’s mission.
3) Democratize information and money so everyone can contribute.

One of our favorite quotes from this Lunch and Learn:
If we can just move from a deficit risk management approach to an asset-based approach (Who are you and what do you bring?), that’s a huge transformation… So to me, the baseline thing is moving from “How do you control this asset?” to “How do you understand this asset and get it in the right space?”.

Looking for tools to shift towards an asset-based, reciprocal approach?
In this Lunch and Learn, Jeanne Bell discussed the value of a strengths-based finder tool. She recommends the Gallup Group’s tool, which can investigate 34 strengths that are broadly categorized into strengths in strategic thinking, influencing, executing, and relationship building. Those interested can follow this link:

Our Learning Partner: 
Humanist Learning Systems is our learning partner for this series. This program is being submitted to both HRCI and SHRM for continuing education credits and participants will be able to request certificates of completion. To learn more about Humanist Learning Systems visit: