Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

by Adam Grant (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2013).

What if the key to success was altruism? In his book Give and Take, Adam Grant, a management professor at Wharton, challenges conventional wisdom and paints an optimistic portrait of leaders that is far from the stereotype of a businessman who is ready to destroy everything in his path to succeed. The author distinguishes between givers, who are largely willing to help others without expecting anything in return, and takers, who put their own interests before those of others. If the latter show more ambition and motivation, it’s givers who, against all odds, dominate at the top of the social ladder. For example, the majority of high-earning salespeople are more generous than the average person. The reason why, according to Grant, is that generous behavior (relaying a message, helping someone write an email, giving career advice, sharing a link on Facebook) not only makes it possible to find personal success (peer recognition, motivation), but also goes hand-in-hand with employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and low turnover. Leaders thus have everything to gain from encouraging generosity among their employees, provided they do no fall into the opposite extreme: spending too much time and energy helping others. The other side of his argument is that generosity should not lead to forgetting your own objectives. It is all a matter of balance. Five minutes a day of generosity is enough to enjoy its benefits, says the author. A theory that should be tested as soon as possible!

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Why conviviality is a managerial asset

Based on, among others, The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It and Why It Matters by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin (Pearson, May 2011) and “Flipping the switch: who is responsible for getting employees to take a break?” (Knoweldge@Wharton, February 2012). Business Digest nº 228, July 2012.

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Peter Singer: The why and how of effective altruism

If you’re lucky enough to live without want, it’s a natural impulse to help others in need. But, asks philosopher Peter Singer, what’s the most effective way to give charitably? He talks through some surprising thought experiments to help you balance emotion and practicality—and make the biggest impact with whatever you can share.