In a world where everybody is trying to get ahead, we’ve been primed to think that helping others is detrimental to our own success. After all, if you want to do better, get a promotion or make more money, you need to be careful of how much you prop up those around you, right?
Organisational reward systems have it that only one person can be at the top, the others can’t. In performance evaluations, for every employee who earns a top mark, another receives a lower mark. These sorts of situations in the work place foster an environment where employees compete, and are encouraged to do anything other than support their colleagues.
Let’s turn this paradigm on it’s head now. Wouldn’t it be great if we could not only help others, but succeed through doing this. Well, a new book “Give And Take”, written by Adam Grant who is a management professor at the The Wharton School, reveals findings that ‘Givers’ are the ones who rise to the top more readily than ‘Takers’ or ‘Matchers’.
His research finds that ‘Givers’ are a huge asset to their companies. Givers increase productivity in their teams by creating an environment where those around them become more effective at their job. As a result, they have larger networks which makes resolving issues much mpre pleasant and easier (not to mention quicker). They have a whole team of people that they’ve helped that now want to return the favour and do their part too, making them exponentially more productive and efficient.
“According to conventional wisdom, highly successful people have three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. If we want to succeed, we need a combination of hard work, talent, and luck. [But there is] a fourth ingredient, one that’s critical but often neglected: success depends heavily on how we approach our interactions with other people. Every time we interact with another person at work, we have a choice to make: do we try to claim as much value as we can, or contribute value without worrying about what we receive in return?”
I know what you’re thinking. Givers could be taken advantage of while they’re doing all this giving, and this is something that is taken into account in Grant’s research. It is very true that givers can make others better off and sacrifice their own success in the process. What Grant’s research has found however, is that Givers are more likely to end up either at the very bottom or the very top of the corporate ladder as a result, with the takers and matchers more likely to end up in the middle.
“Givers dominate the bottom and the top of the success ladder. Across occupations, if you examine the link between reciprocity styles and success, the givers are more likely to become champs — not only chumps.”
At the end of the day, all styles can achieve success. But Grant makes a great point about what happens when givers succeed.
“It spreads and cascades. When takers win, there’s usually someone else who loses. Research shows that people tend to envy successful takers and look for ways to knock them down a notch. In contrast, when [givers] win, people are rooting for them and supporting them, rather than gunning for them. Givers succeed in a way that creates a ripple effect, enhancing the success of people around them. You’ll see that the difference lies in how giver success creates value, instead of just claiming it.”
Not only will being kind make you feel amazing, if you are kind on a daily basis, those important to your success are likely to support you, and you are more likely to be seen as an effective leader (this is not why you should adopt the kindness philosophy – people see through that sort of behaviour)!