Adam Grant, is his book Give & Take, examines why helping others drives our success. This insightful research explains the three types of how we interact with others in business. There are those, who are motivated solely by taking their share (“takers”), those who want everyone to have their fair share (“matchers”) and of course, those who are motivated by generosity (“givers”). Contrary to popular belief, its the last category, the generous givers, who are predetermined to thrive in business.
Here are some unexpected reasons for why givers succeed in business;
Most of the time we’re told to be confident, to speak up, to assert ourselves, and sometimes, that’s necessary. However, Adam says there’s nothing more convincing than giving up power.
When you communicate powerlessly, you don’t focus on what’s in it for you. Instead, you focus on the other person and you ask questions and seek advice. It creates zero resistance in the other person, because it puts them in power, so naturally, many people will choose to help you.
A story that comes to mind is the female working at a Fortune 500 company, forced to quit her MBA studies as she was asked to relocate for work. Feeling powerless and vulnerable she asked her manager “what would you do?”, the company in response to this open, path of least resistance reasoning gave her access to the company’s private jet so that she could relocate and continue with her MBA. Why? When we are vulnerable we remove “the game”, we become human, remind other people to be human and that makes it an incredibly powerful communication tool.
Motivated by a need to add value – givers don’t log hours, they just have to see more of the impact they make when helping others.
As long as you see the purpose in the things you do, there a very few limits on your productivity. Burnout, Grant boldly states, is for the purposeless. Ensure you have a way to see the impact you have as often as possible and no matter how long it takes you’ll get it done, because it won’t feel like work, it will feel like your purpose.
Givers are not doormat’s but doormats were once givers, who failed to draw boundaries around their generosity.
To avoid being a doormat leader, givers must create boundaries around their giving to prevent burn-out.
Boundaries also help effective leaders to overcome being taken advantage of by the takers. To effectively draw boundaries the giver needs to absorb some of the characteristics of the “matcher”. Give but be cognisant of your business needs also.
Adding value without getting burned-out or taken advantage of is not easy in aggressive business environments but then who ever said effective leadership was easy? Givers benefit in the long run because their values will create a large network of allies and friends, plus an excellent reputation that will make them an asset for any professional organisation.
Artwork by Wedgirl
Leila is PCA’s Head Editor and Researcher. She holds a 1st class Law with Business degree and became a published author at 25. Former crime investigator turned business journalist. On a mission to show businesses that presenteeism is a thing of the past. Everything seems impossible until it’s done. Typically found working from a white beach in South-East Asia embracing rapidly changing technology.