Lately I’ve been reading a number of articles about a new book by Adam Grant, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success.” Grant is the youngest tenured professor at Wharton and an expert in organizational psychology. The book examines the correlation between success and the way one approaches interactions with others.
Grant classifies people as Givers, Takers or Matchers based on their attitudes toward reciprocity. While noting that few people are purely givers or takers in every situation, most of us do have a default setting and it has considerable impact on our success in life.
As it turns out, nice guys do finish last. Across many occupations givers earned on average 14% less than takers, have twice the risk of becoming a crime victim and are judged as less powerful by about 20% as compared to takers.
But before you run out and try to take all you can get or at least take the quid quo pro approach of a matcher, the research shows that givers also dominate the top of the ladder. And, when they do, the organization benefits. There is a ripple effect. Success breeds success or in Grant’s words, “You’ll see the difference lies in how giver success creates value instead of just claiming it”.
Given that I spend a lot of my time talking to people about networking, I found it interesting to note how the dynamic plays out in that arena. It appears that both givers and takers have broad networks but for very different reasons. Takers have to keep adding to their network because they tend to churn and burn through their contacts. Givers have large networks because they tend to view relationships in terms of how they can add value. Matchers are most likely to have narrow, focused networks based on keeping score.
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