April 24, 2013

What giving gets you

By Adam Grant
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In life as in business, the evidence of success lies in what you get in exchange for your effort. Doesn’t it? Not so fast. Give and Take posits that there are three types of people in the workplace: Takers, who want to get as much value as possible; Matchers, who prioritize a fair and equal exchange; and Givers, who will help or contribute without expectations. Who do you think does best overall? Who does worst?

If you guessed “Givers” in answer to both questions, congratulations! Author and Wharton professor Adam Grant’s research reveals that those who give to excess do sometimes offer a leg up to colleagues who then walk all over them. But those who give in an “otherish” fashion, helping others but also the organization and themselves, do exceedingly well personally and financially, and are therefore in a position to give more overall.

To support his conclusions, Grant studies basketball draft decisions that looked terrible at the time but led to better things; the career arc of George Meyer, who made “The Simpsons” one of the funniest shows in television history while staying well behind the scenes; and the rise and fall of Kenneth Lay, who seemed like a Giver at first glance, but whose self-centered giving patterns were predictive of the Enron collapse.

Grant goes deep with his subject matter but keeps it entertaining for the reader; there’s a section at the end titled “Actions for Impact” which makes it clear this isn’t simply a look at an interesting idea but a manual for change. Give and Take is a must-read for HR professionals, who can surely use it to promote a more interdependent workplace, but the lessons here transfer out of the office and into the world. Read it and start your own Reciprocity Ring, chart your giving for a set period of time to see where it leads, or become a Love Machine at work and in life (don’t worry, it’s legal). We could all use more of those nowadays.

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Give and Take

Give and Take

By Adam Grant
ISBN 9780670026555

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