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”

-Adam Grant

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.

ADAM GRANT has been recognized as Wharton’s top-rated teacher for five straight years, and as one of the world’s 25 most influential management thinkers and Fortune’s 40 under 40.

Adam is the author of two New York Times bestselling books translated into 35 languages. Originals, on how individuals champion new ideas and leaders fight groupthink, is a #1 national bestseller and one of Amazon’s best books of February 2016. Give and Take, on why helping others drives our success, was named one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal—as well as one Oprah’s riveting reads and Harvard Business Review’s ideas that shaped management.

Adam received his Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Michigan in organizational psychology, finishing it in less than three years, and his B.A. from Harvard University, magna cum laude with highest honors, Phi Beta Kappa honors, and the John Harvard Scholarship for highest academic achievement.