Givers vs. Takers

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Whether it’s through work or side interests, almost everybody has played a part in a team. In fact it’s part of our natural condition to come together in groups and function as one. It’s what breathes life into Aristotle’s philosophy, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But what is a team really? In its most basic form, a team consists of three or more people that all focus on a shared value or goal.

It’s important to note that teams are different from typical workgroups, in that on a team each individual’s success is tied to one another. In this way, teams are much more dependent on each contributor. A team context increases the importance of interpersonal relationships and the positive effects that team members have on each other.

With this in mind, renowned organizational psychologist Adam Grant set out on a mission to explore the interworkings of teams. In his TED Talk, Are you a giver or a taker?, he explains how everyone typically takes on one of three roles: Giver, Taker, or Matcher. Resoundingly, his study concluded that when it comes to teams, Givers often perform lower on individual metrics but propel organizational metrics exponentially further through their focus on the greater good.

In light of that, we know that high-performing teams share these five things in common:

1. Shared and Meaningful Purpose

2. A Common Collaborative Approach

3. Shared and Measurable Goals

4. Complimentary Skills

5. Clearly Defined Roles

It’s no secret that in business, each person comes with their own drive, initiative, and subject matter expertise that moves business forward. However, this self-reliant autonomy can sometimes get in the way when we’re required to perform and succeed altogether as one on teams.

This week, think about the role you play in the interpersonal lives of your teammates. Do you define yourself as Giver, Taker, or Matcher? Better yet, what would your team define you as? The diversity of backgrounds, experiences, traits, and attributes on a team is what contributes to deeply rich cultures and experiences. For this reason, your Prism Portrait is a helpful place to start looking for blind spots that could be creating unwanted effects that undermine a team culture based on giving.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

― Winston Churchill

Do you have an idea you want to share with an empowered community of self-aware professionals? If you’d like to contribute an idea or article to ‘In The Flow of Work’ on the Evolve blog, just send us a message or submit a post to our Head of Content, Adam Schneider

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