Why Giving To Others Drives Our Success

Over the years I have networked with many great people, people who seem to be predisposed to giving value – be it their time, their resources, their knowledge, their support, their ear, their collaboration, their expertise. Then there are others. Those people Give and Takewho show up, and in the first 5 minutes you begin to realize that this conversation is going to be all about them and what value I can bring to them. These people are often largely motivated by self-interest and feel entitled to pursue self-serving goals. They measure our value by how much we can give them.

In his landmark book Give and Take, Adam Grant illuminates the importance of how we interact with others when exchanging value. His book, changes our fundamental understanding of why we succeed, offering a new model for our relationships with colleagues, clients and competitors. It demolishes the argument of the ‘me first’ worldview and shows that the best way to get to the top is to focus not on your solo journey but on bringing others with you.

When we look at successful people, what are their common characteristics? According to Grant, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. But how does this come about? What is the essence of success? Grant suggests that success depends on how we interact with other people. Every time we make an exchange with another person we can approach the interaction with a competitive or collaborative approach. It is this approach which makes some people succeed and others fail.

People can give or take. Takers like to tip the exchange benefits in their favour by putting their interests ahead of others. Givers, on the other hand, put others first, giving more than they get.

When we look at the characteristics behind Givers and Takers we tend to picture Takers as positive, demanding and progressive, whilst Givers are submissive, compromising and more accepting of second best. Grant’s research tells us an interesting story however. Who is at the bottom of the success food chain? Givers of course. Who is at the top? Surprisingly it’s the Givers again! Takers and Matchers tend to be in the middle.

In Give and Take, Grant explains how it’s all about the strategy we take. According to the book, people who choose giving as their primary reciprocity style end up reaping rewards. It takes time for Givers to build goodwill and trust, but eventually, they establish reputations and relationships that enhance their success. In today’s connected world, where relationships and reputations are more visible, Givers can now more then ever accelerate their pace.

In business, independence is seen as a symbol of strength: interdependence as a sign of weakness. This is particularly true of Takers, who tend to see themselves as superior and separate from others. If they depend too much on others, Takers believe, they’ll be vulnerable to being outdone. On the other hand, Givers reject the notion that interdependence is weak. Givers are more likely to see interdependence as a source of strength, a way to harness the skills of multiple people for a greater good. Are you a Giver or a Taker?

Give and Take outlines how successful Givers have unique approaches to interactions in four key domains: networking, collaborating, evaluating, and influencing. Want to learn more? Check this summary. Want to maximize learning how to better help others to drive your success? Consider coaching as a way to accelerate your performance, today.

Let there be more giving in the world!

Alexandra Salamis



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