Saturday, August 23, 2008


1. Rank has its privileges.

"There is no way you can leapfrog, bypass, overrule, ignore, challenge, disobey, or criticize your boss and not get penalized in the game," writes Betty Lehan Harragan, author of "Games Mother Never Taught You".

You may disagree with your boss privately, correct some misconception, or even fill her in on some technical detail in your area of expertise. But not in public. No matter if the boss says something that's not accurate or even outright wrong. For your purposes, she is right. Absolutely, finally, and positively.

The EQ Coach: "The boss may not always be right, but he is always the boss."

2. Hard work is not enough.

Success isn't that simple anymore. Attitude, image, initiative, confidence -- a handful of intangibles -- plus how well you do your job are what give one person the winning edge over another.

The EQ Coach: Attitude, image, intiative and confidence all fall under the rubric of EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. You didn't learn that in school, so get some EQ coaching and start learning it now.

3. You were hired not just to do the job but to make your boss look good.

Suppose you're the manager of the information-systems department and you devise a way to do an audit better, faster, easier. Your method will save time and money. Now, do you tout your fantastic solution, making sure everyone knows that your boss had nothing to do with it? Or do you bring your boss on board, ask for any suggestions to improve the program, and together sell the solution to the higher-ups?

Assuming your boss isn't a thief who wants to take credit for others' ideas and work, sharing the glory usually increases your own.

The EQ Coach: I sat at a board meeting one fine day when the finance chairman stood up and thanked the development officer (not the director of the agency, who was chairing the meeting, of course) for "saving" the agency. She was asked to leave 2 months later.

4. You have to be a team player.

One day, you've got the ball; another day, someone else is running with it. If you can't or won't help others achieve their objectives, your colleagues won't be there for you either. It's not just higher-ups who can sabotage you: Your peers can make or break your projects.

The EQ Coach: In every office, with every person, there will come a time when you need 'help' from someone else. "Pay it forward."

5. Thick skins protect soft souls.

You can expect that every driving, successful boss will have times when his patience is thin. So let the fast and furious comments roll off your back. Remind yourself that everybody is working together to get the best possible job done. Don't be a doormat, but don't get crazy when somebody snaps.

The EQ Coach: Everyone has a bad day every once in a while. Forgive it of others, and it will be forgiven of you. Don't make a big deal out of it.

6. Information is crucial.

To do your job well, you need to know who gets along with whom, who once got along with whom but doesn't now, and why. Learning the history of relationships in your office can save you considerable embarrassment.

The EQ Coach: One of my clients Twyla told me when she started a new job, she found the filing clerk to be incompetent and abrasive and was "ready to do something about it," i.e., go to Edgar the boss. But Twyla had an Angel there at the office, it seems, named Norma. Norma liked Twyla, the New Kid on the Block, and saw what was brewing. She bounced by her office one day and said cheerily, "Hey, Twyla, did you realize we have two sets of mothers-daughters working here and that [the file clerk] is Edgar's cousin? Isn't that neat?"

That's "word". Pay attention!

7. A positive attitude brings positive feedback.

Unless you're enthusiastic, you are going to have a hard time getting ahead. Low morale can kill a career as fast as you can say, "I hate this assignment." The right attitude may differ from place to place, but if you don't have a positive outlook, it will reflect in your work and things will only go downhill. If you really hate a place, do yourself a favor and get out.

The EQ Coach says: More emotional intelligence. If you've tried all alternatives (see me for suggestions!), and you really hate a place, do yourself a favor and get out.

8. Total honesty is for your shrink.

"Although candor and emotional honesty can be valuable assets in personal relations, letting it all hang out in a work setting can be unwise, inappropriate, and often damaging," Janice LaRouche writes in "Strategies for Women at Work". You especially do not want to involve your superiors in your personal life -- nor do they want to be involved (no matter how understanding they seem when you recite your tales of woe).

The EQ Coach: We all try and be helpful and friendly, but honestly, the workplace is where you work, and hearing the problems of others is distracting. Wise cookies take it elsewhere.

9. Work friendships are usually transitory.

People come and go in an office. They get promoted over you or you might get promoted over them, or they go to work for somebody you have declared an enemy, or what's worse, someone you have declared an enemy may become your boss. So think of your friendships at work as alliances related to a specific task, which is what they are, no matter how genuine they seem to be during the job. Don't expect the alliances to be permanent.

The EQ Coach says: Be friendly at work, don't be friends. That's something different.

10. Sometimes, you have to ignore the rules.

Sometimes, you will make a lifelong friend at the office and the relationship will be hassle-free. Sometimes, you will marry the boss's son. Sometimes, it could cost your company millions because the boss is making an egregious error at a meeting with a vendor or a client and you're the only one with enough guts to speak up and correct him. Sometimes, you have to go over your boss's head, your boss's boss is impressed, the boss gets fired, and you get the job. The point is, these rules are general guidelines, not absolutes. But before you break any of them, consider your company's culture, your boss, your own job -- and have a good reason.

Knowing the rules won't guarantee that you'll rise to the top, but at least you won't set up roadblocks for yourself along the way. Corporate politics is a game, first and foremost. Failure to play by the rules will almost always result in your being sidelined, no matter how good you are at your work.

The EQ Coach says: The hardest part is learning what the "real" rules are in your organization. Let me coach you to success!

These came to me from Israel. If they are attributable to someone please let me know and I'll be glad to attribute them appropriately.

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