When there is a task or project to be undertaken at work, are you the one who volunteers to manage it or help out … even if it is not your responsibility and you won’t receive additional benefits or compensation?
I read a couple of reviews of Adam Grant’s book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.
The book’s premise is simple. Traditionally, the entrepreneurial drivers to success have been passion, hard work, talent, dedication and luck. But Grant argues (and proves) that success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. In other words, success hinges more on effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation and leadership informed by and made more valuable by being a “Giver”.
According to Grant, takers are people who, when they walk into an interaction with another person, are trying to get as much as possible from that person and contribute as little as they can in return, thinking that’s the shortest and most direct path to achieving their own goals. The Taker is the sort that says what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine. A Taker is always thinking what can you do for me rather than, what can I do for you?
Takers think their interests are more important than the needs of others, and they want to get more than they give. They view workplace as a competition, where they must be better than others. They promote themselves and make sure they receive abundant credit for their efforts. When Takers help strategically ensuring that the benefits to them surpass the personal costs.
Matchers believe that relationships are driven by transactions of favors and expect reciprocity. Matchers have an internal balance mechanism that measures giving and taking and recognizes the basic principle of win-win, but always measuring. They calculate exactly when they are not receiving equal reciprocation.
Givers orient themselves in the opposite direction, often giving more than they get. They are focused on others, guided by what other people need and help without expecting anything in return. Givers strive to share their time, energy, knowledge, skills, ideas and connections with other people who can benefit from them. Their focus is on making a real difference in their field and having a positive impact on others.
This is the enlightened species that provides service, guidance, care, feeding and comfort without any immediate expectation of reward, match or equivalence. The Giver is someone who has an internal desire to share. Now before you laugh at the naiveté of being a Giver, Grant explains how to be a Giver without being a victim. The Giver comes from a position of power, not weakness.
According to Adam Grant, Givers sink to the bottom of the success ladder. If that is true, who are the most successful, the Takers or Matchers? Grant says, it is the Givers. This unexpected combination makes it critical to understand what differentiates successful givers from failed ones.
According to Grant, there are selfless (self-sacrificing) Givers and the “Other” (successful) Givers.
Selfless Givers may suffer from a form of pathological altruism because they try to help others to the detriment of their own needs and eventually damage themselves. They exhaust themselves, neglect their own needs and burn their reserves. For this, they generally decline to the bottom of the success ladder.
“Other” Givers are concerned about benefiting others while pursuing their goals and their own interests. They give more than they receive but they keep their own interests in sight and use them as a guide for deciding when, where, how and to whom to give. They energize themselves through giving, build up reserves of happiness and meaning that Takers, Matchers and selfless Givers are less able to access. Other Givers may appear less altruistic, but their resilience enables them to contribute more.
Organizations have a strong interest in fostering giving behavior because it lies at the heart of effective collaboration, innovation, quality improvement, and service excellence.
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