February 11, 2015
In his 1986 autobiography Is that it? Bob Geldof, the Irish rock musician and humanitarian, quotes Mother Theresa on giving. “When you give, give generously and without conditions,” said the Albanian nun known for her lifelong devotion to the poorest of the poor. But in organizational dynamics, it’s not that simple—an individual may be a giver, a matcher or a taker or a complex combination of the three. Their dominant tendency will not only shape their career, and the satisfaction they draw from it, it can also create a ripple effect throughout the organizations and the communities they serve.
The giving that The Wharton School's Adam Grant studies is not primarily of the charitable kind, but it is no less generous. Grant’s givers may or may not be writing cheques to worthy causes, but they share a common aptitude and interest in supporting the well-being and fulfillment of others. In Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Grant describes how wise “givers” have conditions, and that is not a bad thing. Among those who give wisely, many can tell a story of being taken for a ride (or two) before they realized that not everyone they helped was going to pay it forward.
Grant’s case studies are experts in the gift of time—not freeing up time, but time given to mentorship and helping others to grow their skills and networks. By bringing their stories together in Give and Take, Adam Grant creates an expanded definition of what it means to give in life, and at the office.