Go-Getters vs. Go-Givers

Posted: September 3, 2013 in Leadership
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Go-GiverOne of the entities I follow on Twitter is @TalentCulture, a source of helpful information across topics such as leadership, talent management, human resources, the social workplace, and HR technology. Between their tweets, tweet chats, radio show, and other web resources, you can find a lot of quality information and interaction with others who share such interests. It is one specific train of thought in a series of recent tweets from @TalentCulture that sparks this blog post.

How many times have you heard of someone positively described as a go-getter? The term is generally used to praise someone who takes initiative, who gets things done, who does more than what is expected, who doesn’t let obstacles stand in the way of achieving some goal, etc. That is why I was a bit surprised earlier this week to see a series of tweets distinguishing a “go-getter” from a “go-giver” with the more positive slant going in favor of the go-giver.

What is the difference between the two? The tweets from the past few days will help distinguish between them.

Some of the characteristics of go-getters according to @TalentCulture tweets on September 1-2 include:

  • people of action;
  • egocentric;
  • get things done;
  • more competitive and inward looking;
  • tend to usurp;
  • most have only one speed and agenda – themselves;
  • goal driven and will not deviate from that;
  • need to know what’s in it for them;
  • the players with the puck/ball and their sight on the goal.

Conversely, go-givers were described in these ways:

  • focus on bringing value to others;
  • seek personal success while benefiting colleagues;
  • tend to be servant leaders;
  • elevate the achievement of others;
  • community-centric;
  • think of the team before themselves;
  • focus on empowering others.

There is a definite difference between the two according to the people who shared the above descriptions.

A few other tweets worth noting include:

  • “Without go-givers, there would be nothing for go-getters to take.”
  • “If I help you ‘go-get’ what you need then I have become a ‘go-giver.'”
  • “It’s completely possible to be a go-getter and still be focused on others.” (Does this view mesh very well with the others above? Do you agree with the claim?)

As someone who has positively identified himself as a go-getter for most of life, I admit it is hard for me to wrap my head around this distinction. It is difficult to see being a go-getter in a more negative light when I know, for example, that I demonstrate daily a concern for others and willingness to give in order to help them achieve their goals while also being very goal oriented and driven to accomplish more than others expect from me. Perhaps I’ll have to read the book and chew on this idea a little more to determine where I stand on the matter. At least the potential distinction is now in mind and I can better analyze my motives and behavior.

What do you think? How does this distinction between a go-getter and a go-giver resonate with you? Which one are you, or do you think you’re a mixture of both? How do you see the distinction playing out among members of your team at work, or even in your household or other organizations you may be a part of? Let me know in a comment.

For more info about the idea of being a go-giver, go to thegogiver.com and the #tchat recap. You’ll find the book on Amazon if you’re interested.

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