If you are interested in human capital, you may already be a fan of Adam Grant. Not only is he a pioneer in the study of organizational behavior, but he is also one of the most respected researchers and writers on what makes workplaces effective. At 31, Grant is the youngest tenured professor at Wharton School of Business.
Grant just released his first book, “Give and Take,” which is a composite look at the work he has done studying reciprocity. He posits that in broad terms, there are three kinds of people:
- “Givers” – Those who actively seek out ways to be helpful and generous to those around them without lots of forethought about whether it will be reciprocated.
- “Takers” – Those who actively work to get more out of exchanges than they give.
- “Matchers” – Those who keep an even balance of give and take.
We recently caught up with Grant and chatted with him about how givers, takers and matchers impact an organization’s culture and effectiveness.
Q: So you have studied productivity quite a bit and try to look at some keys to being successful, and one of the theses of the book is that people who are extremely helpful to others turn out to be some of the most successful people. Can you talk briefly about why that is?
Adam Grant: There are many reasons, but let’s start with two. One: If you’re a helpful and generous person, you end up exchanging ideas and information with a much wider array of people, which can boost creativity and innovation. Two: When you are helpful and generous with your time and knowledge, there’s a lot of goodwill that’s created, and over time, since most people are matchers, that goodwill often gets repaid.