Two Ways to Spot a Taker
I would not trust a boss in judging who’s a giver or a taker but actually go to the people who work laterally or below that person.
Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor at Wharton and a leading expert on success, work motivation, and helping and giving behaviors. He has been recognized as Wharton’s single-highest-rated teacher, one of the world’s 40 best business professors under 40, and one of BusinessWeek’s favorite professors. Previously, he was a record-setting advertising director at Let’s Go Publications, an All-American springboard diver, and a professional magician.
Adam earned his Ph.D. in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan, completing it in less than three years, and his B.A. from Harvard University, magna cum laude with highest honors and Phi Beta Kappa honors. He has been honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award for every class that he has taught. He has presented for leaders at organizations such as Google, the NFL, Merck, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, IBM, the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force. He has appeared on CNN and CBC, and designed several experiential learning activities based on The Apprentice in which students have raised over $175,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation while developing leadership, influence, networking and collaboration skills.
Adam’s research has been featured in bestselling books, including Quiet by Susan Cain, Drive and To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink, and The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, as well as hundreds of media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine,USA Today, The Financial Times, Oprah Magazine, and the Freakonomics blog. Adam has more than 60 publications in leading management and psychology journals, and his pioneering studies have increased performance and reduced burnout among engineers and sales professionals, enhanced call center productivity, and motivated safety behaviors among doctors, nurses and lifeguards. In 2011, he won the triple crown of prestigious scholarly achievement awards from the American Psychological Association, the Academy of Management, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
How do you spot a taker? I think there are a couple of signals that you can look for. One is there’s a lot of research showing that takers tend to use "I" and "me" as opposed to "us" and "we" when talking about accomplishments and successes. They claim as much credit as they can.
A second pattern that I really love is an idea that basically is called kissing up, kicking down. Takers tend to be really good at managing up and trying to flatter and make good impressions on powerful and influential people. But it’s pretty tough to keep up that masquerade in every interaction and if you’re a taker you tend to let your guard down a little bit more when you’re interacting with peers and subordinates.
And so I would actually not trust a boss in judging who’s a giver or a taker but actually go to the people who work laterally or below that person.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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