How To Steal Your Boss's Job
Recently, I was approached by Fox News to be interviewed on an office politics segment, which they entitled "How to Steal your Boss's Job." For logistical reasons, the interview fell through, but I've been thinking a lot about this topic since being approached. Yes, the title is rather sensationalistic, but we've all come to expect that from various news outlets.
Regardless, in this economy, there are more than a few people who are scanning upward, hoping to unseat a barricading boss. Hence, in the spirit of keeping office politics on the up-and-up, I'll share with you what I would have shared with the segment producer had the story gone through:
- What do you want to be when you grow up? Is the boss's position really the direction you want to go with your career? Are you in the right field for your skills and passions? I think it was Zig Ziglar who always used to admonish those who climbed the ladder of success only to find it was leaning against the wrong wall.
- Be careful what you wish for. Remember the movie, Bruce Almighty? Talk about stealing the boss's job! Bruce got to be God. And he found out it was a heck of a lot harder to be the boss than he imagined (or criticized). Sometimes being the boss isn't all it's cracked up to be.
- There's an upside to Thievery. Every company should be concerned about succession planning. If you are skilled and qualified for your boss's job, you should make that known to your boss in a non-threatening way. If something should happen to him or her, being groomed to fill in seamlessly is a plus in today's economy.
- You are your boss's ad agency. The best way to "steal" your boss's job is to get him or her promoted. Be their marketer. Make them look so darn good to their superiors that upward mobility is a foregone conclusion. They should be so appreciative of your efforts, you will be a shoe-in as their replacement. And remember: a rising tide raises all ships.
- You're all on the same team. Each of my daughters plays soccer. My older daughter's team plays well together, stealing the ball from the other team, while helping and defending each other. My younger daughter's team is supposed to be 3-on-3. It's actually 5-on-1, as whoever has the ball is attacked... sometimes by their own teammates... and it's chaos. Who's team would you rather play on?
- Don't lose it on the dismount. Should you succeed your boss in his or her position, just remember what (and who) it took to get there. And there's always another upstart who wants to play "king of the hill" - so watch how you behave when you get there.
- And... should you have an incompetent boss who needs to be deposed... and you've tried every effort to coach them to be successful... quit enabling and protecting bad behaviors; their own incompetence will do them in. Just don't help with the cover-up any longer unless it would endanger your company's livelihood (or other stakeholders such as customers). If that is the case, document responsibilities so it will be clear where accountability truly lies.
Yeah, I know, not nearly as juicy-sounding as the way Fox wanted to spin it... but it does show you can play office politics AND keep your soul. Go figure.