This is an excerpt from Empower: How to Co-Create the Future. The full 200+ page book is available by donation!
“The time you spend solving other people’s problems makes you better at solving your organization’s problems”
excerpt from book
David Passiak: According to conventional wisdom, successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. They need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck to succeed. Your research in Give and Take focused on interactions with other people and team dynamics, which led you to identify three different reciprocity preferences: givers, takers, and matchers. I’m curious, why is reciprocity important, and how does it signify a fundamental shift in approach to management?
Adam Grant: I think it’s important because we all live and work in a connected world. If you track any industrialized economy, what you’ll find is that the majority of people are working in service jobs, teams, or both. And literally, if you’re working in a service job, then your entire goal is to help somebody else. If you’re in a team, then your success is heavily dependent on how well you collaborate with and contribute to your colleagues. It’s hard to succeed without having effective interactions and meaningful relationships—that is what drew me to the importance of reciprocity.
This is increasingly important in the sense that we’ve seen a dramatic growth of the service sector, so there are fewer people working in manufacturing and production kinds of jobs. The world of work has become more relational. There is also the rise of teamwork. People used to work independently on pieces of a product that would then get assembled, and now we’re seeing more interdependence and back-and-forth collaboration, which makes interactions more important than they were before.
I think about givers as people who enjoy helping others and regularly do it with no strings attached. They made up both the most successful and the least successful performers across all types of jobs from engineering to medicine to sales.