Disagreeable givers are batmen of a workplace

What kind of people are non-conformists who are often also original innovators and business leaders? How to create a workplace where people are not afraid to speak up? How to offer purpose and meaning at work for people? Speakers of Nordic Business Forum 2017 tell. 

How originals make their ideas heard

Adam Grant is a professor and author who has studied originals who are not afraid to tell their ideas and pursue change. Grant listed top 5 most important ways how originals make their ideas heard:

1. Put your worst foot forward

When you present counter ideas and not only strengths of your idea, you create trust and keep the listeners interested.

2. Make unfamiliar familiar

Start-up pitches fail often because people do not understand what they mean. The secret is to build a bridge between your idea and a known idea. Make people think that they have heard your idea before.

3. Create psychological safety

How to create an atmosphere at work where people are not afraid to fail? As a boss, you should be an example for openly admitting that you are still developing. For example publish critical feedback that you received to your company intranet.

4. Fight groupthink

Grant gave a group exercise for this: design how to destroy your company (instead of developing it). The exercise makes threats and opportunities visible, creates wild ideas and people love it.

5. Rethink culture fit

If everyone fits to your company’s present culture, the company will not grow very fast. For example Ideo hired anthropologies to work with designers in order to get fresh insights.

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Grant argues people can be classified as givers and takers at a workplace. Givers share and think for others whereas takers think that people in general are selfish. Furthermore some are agreeable and some disagreeable by nature. Grant says that disagreeable givers are the most valuable people for your company as they will speak up and help others to develop.

What is meaning of life and how to add meaning to work?


Frank Martela is a researcher and philosopher who defines meaning of life in one sentence: “Meaning of life is about doing things meaningful to you in a way that makes yourself meaningful to other people”.

He argues that it is important to connect both to others and to oneself in order to find meaning in life. How to apply this in a workplace? Martela points out 4 issues:

1. Autonomy

Give people goals and then give them freedom to achieve them in a way they think it is the best. Make decisions together.

2. Competence

People are best at tasks that are little bit too difficult rather than too easy. Competence is also developing as people get regular feedback and feel fully supported by employer.

3. Relatedness

People want to connect to others. Martela encourages to create arenas for interaction to make sharing between people happen.

4. Contribution

Martela argues that people want to be on a positive mission with good deeds. Make people’s (givers’) contribution and positive impact visible in order to create meaning at work.

To summarise the leadership, purpose and responsibility theme of the Nordic Business Forum this year: leaders can make work meaningful for people as they take responsibility of building a human centric workplace with right atmosphere to boost idea sharing.


The author Hanna Heikkonen participated in Nordic Business Forum 2017 Livestream event in Think Corner


One thought on “Disagreeable givers are batmen of a workplace

  1. I also saw professor Grants speech and very much enjoyed it. I think it linked very well with Patrick Lenzionis presentation in NBF about Healthy Organisations where he addressed the fact that the basic building block of well functioning team is trust. And this has all to do with admitting your vulnerability. In a good team, you are not afraid to show your weaknesses and ask for help. And it starts with a leader who is willing to admit his/her weaknesses.

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