"It feels as though Adam Grant is already part of our family," Keller Williams CEO Chris Heller said as he introduced the keynote speaker at Family Reunion.
Grant, who is the youngest tenured professor and top-rated teacher at the Wharton School of Business ("So he's young, popular and brilliant!" Heller quipped), is an organizational psychologist who studies human interaction styles. Grant's New York Times bestselling book, Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, explores the fundamentals of human interactions and how to make them work for you. “Our interactions are a huge driver of success," Grant said. "The way we treat our colleagues and clients shapes what we accomplish."
Grant categorizes people into three basic behavioral styles: givers, takers and matchers. He asked audience members to think about their own interaction style, the styles of the people they deal with everyday and the implication these styles have on their success.
"Givers help people with no strings attached – sometimes to the peril of their own success," Grant said. He cautioned that this is not the best path for success. "It is hard to be successful when you spend all of your time helping others succeed," he observed.
At the other end of the spectrum are takers. Takers put themselves first and do so at the expense of others.
Somewhere between the givers and takers are the matchers. Matchers give but they often expect something in return. They linger in safe territory.
[Tweet ""Helping others can either sink or accelerate your career." – Adam Grant"]
After explaining the counter-intuitive finding that givers are both the least successful and the most successful style, Grant provided a two-step process to accelerate the success of a giver and make sure they don't sink.
Step 1. Get rid of the takers. "It is nice to have the right people on the bus, but it is critical to keep the wrong people off your bus," Grant said. When there are takers present, givers get paranoid and watch their back. When givers are taken advantage of by takers, they burn-out and shut down. To get rid of bad apples you need to know how to spot them.
You can spot a taker if they have a great reputation with people upward in the organization but a mixed reputation with their peers and downward. This is because takers kiss up and talk down. You can also spot takers because they usually use the words "me" and "I." Once you spot the takers, remove them or limit your interactions with them.
Step 2. Become a successful giver by redefining "giving." Look at Adam Rifkin, LinkedIn's number one networker, for example. Rifkin redefined giving with the "Five-Minute Favor." It's a simple and effective strategy: Perform several five-minute favors every week. Examples of five-minute favors include using a product and offering feedback, introducing two people through email or LinkedIn or sharing something of value on social media. The reason this works is because it prevents the giver from giving too much. As for the takers, they can't claim they don't have at least five minutes to help someone. No one is that busy.
Step 3. Ask for help. If you never ask, there will be a lot of frustrated givers in your life who would help if they knew it was needed. Look into your network to ask for help. You can tap into your strong ties (friends and family), weak ties (acquaintances) and even your dormant ties (people you once knew, but have lost contact with). Start by contacting your weak and dormant ties as they have circles outside of yours and generally are able to offer better resources.
Grant concluded his captivating speech with describing the Reciprocity Ring. The idea of the reciprocity ring is to take 8-10 people and put them in the same room. Everyone has to ask for something they want or need, but can't get it on their own. Everyone asks the people in the group if they could tap into their network and see if they could find someone to help them. This is a great exercise for three reasons:
1.It gets people comfortable asking. When everyone is expected to ask they feel compelled to do so.
2. It motivates the takers to act like givers. They don't want to be the only person in the room not giving.
3. Matchers learn that matching is not the most efficient way to conduct their life. Matchers realize if they can invest in more giving with no strings attached, they can all get more of what we want.