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Are You a Giver? Or a Taker?

Are You a Giver or a Taker?

The world is filled with people that are givers and takers. The workplace is full of both. From our own workforce, we know full well which executives, which direct reports, and usually which front line workers are givers or takers. What’s more – it’s pretty darn easy to spy another leader who is a giver. No doubt we can identify a taker.

We can usually spot either type within a few minutes of meeting them. Not to mention – the more dominant the trait, the easier it is to discern.

‘If you do something for me, I’ll do something for you.’  [Sounds like a typical taker.] Takers tend to rise up the ranks pretty quickly. They tend to top the sales charts. But they also plummet rapidly, too. It’s because ‘what can you do for me?’ is usually the culprit. And it’s our organization, our employees and teams, our customers who pay the price.  

On the opposite end of the spectrum, our givers can end up being the lowest revenue generators. Why? Too much generosity. Too much time devoted to helping others. The more often our people are helping others (colleagues, insomuch as our customers), the less time they are spending on their own productivity.

‘My passion is to help others.’ [Sounds representative of a giver.] Givers sacrifice themselves to make their organizations better. Givers actually land themselves as outliers in studies (Grant, 2016). How do givers end up as such assets? Oftentimes those who are fortunate enough to work for an organization where they are protected and supported are those who climb the ranks in genuine ways. They also take care of workplace relationships. More so, they care about our customers. They generate revenue in ways that are far more sustainable.

The Bottom Line

So, as leaders, what do we do?

As leaders, the purpose, the objective, the intent, the goal of our organization – is with the full intent to serve (aka help) our customers in one way or another. We genuinely want to provide relief, comfort, assistance, or joy to the lives of our customers. And we are confident that our company can provide that by way of our products and/or services.

So, it may lead us to believe (or assume might be a better word here), that the core of our company is built on the giver mentality. The beauty of givers is that they are comfortable in the workplace to be generous with their time, attention, and energy.

So how do we protect our workplace culture so our givers can contribute? How about helping others succeed? Empowerment. It’s … quite powerful 🙂

…. and take heed:

‘If you want to build a culture of generosity, be thoughtful who you accept on your team. …the negative the impact of a taker on a culture is usually double or triple the impact of a giver.” (Grant, 2016)

Cultures where mentoring, coaching, and helping others as the norm is ideal. If you want your company to thrive when it concerns organizational culture – protect your workforce by stimulating and supporting a culture of giving.

In this TEDTalk with the organizational psychologist Adam Grant, we can learn some tips to better inoculate our workplace culture.



TED@IBM. (2016, November). Are you a giver or a taker? [Video file]. Retrieved from