Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

By: Adam Grant

Review by: Executive Roundtable Member, Ina Gutium, Human Resources Manager, Unison Health and Community Services

The Premise: Nice guys finish last… Do they really? Most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. When you think of the givers, matchers and takers of this world, who do you think rises to the top?

If you think takers, like the most of us do, then think again. Whether in architecture, law, IT, healthcare or investment banking, it is actually givers who are among the most successful according to the research done by Adam Grant and shared in his new book A Revolutionary Approach to Success. The surprising fact though, is that givers are also some of the least successful. How is this possible? For the givers of the world, Adam provides some helpful strategies to avoid ending up as doormats including overcoming timidity to become self-advocates, setting limits on their availability, and complementing empathy with perspective. For employers, Adam Grant provides practical solutions on how to support givers to continue giving without leaving them at the mercy of the takers, but most importantly how to create an environment where matchers and takers will become genuine givers, as in reciprocity rings like Freecycle.

The Bottom-line: I found the book to be equally inspirational and practical. Although, by and large, it is the takers who dominate the spotlight, but I bet if you take some time to reflect, all of your professional role models will turn out to be givers. Givers are the people who get to the top without cutting others down. As a giver myself, the motto of the book, ‘focus intention and energy on making a difference and success will follow as a by-product,’ struck a chord with me.

To find out your reciprocity style go to The two strategies that I definitely plan to champion within my organization are Reciprocity Rings, which encourage coworkers to help each other, as well as Job Crafting, where employees create a map of how they would like to modify their tasks, thereby crafting a more ideal but still realistic vision of their job that aligns with their interests and values.

Roundtable Rating: an interesting, worthwhile read with actionable strategies for managers and employees alike.

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