Why nice guys finish last - and first

I love this little bit of research by the author of "Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success," Adam Grant, who appeared recently in this piece at Wharton on "the rise of givers."

You look across a wide range of industries and even countries, and you find these three styles exist everywhere. Indeed, the givers are overrepresented at the bottom. Putting other people first, they often put themselves at risk for burning out or being exploited by takers. A lot of people look at that and say, 'Well, it's hard for a taker to rise consistently to the top, because oftentimes, takers burn bridges. So, it must be the matchers who are more generous than takers, but also protect their own interests.' When I looked at the data, I was really surprised to see that those answers were wrong. It's actually the givers again. Givers are overrepresented at the top as well as the bottom of most success metrics....

A matcher is somebody who really believes in a just world. Of course, a taker violates that belief in a just world. Matchers cannot stand to see takers get ahead by taking advantage of other people. The data on this suggests that matchers will often go around trying to punish them, often by gossiping and spreading negative reputational information.

Just as matchers hate seeing takers get away with exploitation, they also hate to see people act really generously and not get rewarded for it. Matchers will often go out of their way to promote and help and support givers, to make sure they actually do get rewarded for their generosity. That's one of the most powerful dynamics behind the rise of givers.

Grant must be doing something right. He's the youngest tenured and highest rated professor at the Wharton School of Business.