Week Three: ‘Give and Take’ by Adam Grant

This is Week Three of the #CEOChallenge – to read 52 books in a year – follow along for weekly insights into some of the worlds most influential books. Enjoy!

“The art of advocacy is to lead you to my conclusion on your terms. I want you to form your conclusions; you’ll hold on to them more strongly. I try to walk jurors to that line, drop them off, and let them make up their own minds.”Dave Walton, quoted by Adam Grant (141)

Adam Grant, a professor of Organization Psychology at Wharton, is one of the few people to take on the TED stage more than once. Alongside these accolades, his writing has captured me many times and he has come to be one of my favorite authors. This week I read his book, Give and Take, a timely work designed to prove that the key to success is helping others.

Grant illustrates three categories people fall into in terms of how they relate to those in their own workplaces. They are separated into Givers, Takers, and Matchers.

Grant unveils why ‘Giving’ may be the real key to influence and success in a world that is so set on taking and matching. Here is why:

Takers: These people generally want more out of relationships then they have to put in. The people who find themselves in this category are likely attaining the character trait of Dominance. They exercise powerful communication to beckon their audiences to bow to their intellect. They use their manipulative techniques to gain sales and influence, and they often leave a trail of reckoning behind them.

Matchers: These people work in the normal paradigms of the world, the “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” kind of people.  They will only climb as high as they can reciprocate favors.

Givers: Givers are those who seek to add value to others regardless of the return on investment. Here are some critical character traits of givers:

  1. When it comes to leadership positions givers seek Prestige. They pursue opportunities of influence for the sake of the others, not themselves. A bigger platform for them to use for the sake of others.
  2. They use powerless communication to gain influence. Instead of making themselves look smart, they make their audiences feel smart; humbly leading their Giver Taker Matcheraudience to make the conclusions themselves.
  3. In sales positions, they use solution based marketing, leading to truly satisfied customers who get the best product for their needs without manipulation to buy more. (This leads to long-term gains outperforming takers in almost all categories).

WARNING TO GIVERS: Successful givers give smartly, not freely. Too many givers burnout and lose out on the opportunity to give more later. These givers, though filled with good intention, need to learn to say ‘no’ – do not let yourself become a doormat (or as the image on the right suggests, “The Loser”)!

I hope you walk away questioning where you fit on this spectrum, and more than that, I hope you see that in a world that likes to take, take, and take, real success lies in giving smartly.

Adam Grant is one of today’s greatest influencers, and I highly recommend reading his other books. As well, follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for daily insights into making workplaces better!

See you next week,








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