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How To Steal Your Boss's Job

Burglar 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Making an Ash of Yourself

Iceland_volano If you were late for work this week, chances are good that it was the fault of the volcanic eruption in Iceland.

Let's look at this logically.  The volcano erupts, spewing tons of ash into the atmosphere.  The ash grounds planes all over Europe, stranding travelers everywhere.  One of those travelers was supposed to get home for an important meeting in another city.  Because they didn't make it, their coworkers were forced to work overtime to make up for their absence.  Those long hours caused another division located closer to you to pick up the slack.  One person on the team was already putting in long hours... the additional work causing greater sleep deprivation.  On his way into the office, he wasn't paying attention and switched lanes without looking or signaling, causing a 15-car pile-up on the busiest thoroughfare between your home and your office.  Your car was one of the hundreds backed up.  So you were late.  But it was ultimately the volcano's fault.

Systems thinking is both a blessing and a curse.  Understanding relationships among events - even those spread out by time and space - helps to understand the natural flow of information and activity, which in turn allows for problem solving and opportunity identification.  Some people can abuse these systems relationships by creating undue cause-and-effect (i.e., unaccountable blame).

It is important to learn how to trace outcomes back to inputs, and to know where those inputs come from.  However, almost every human system has some degree of autonomy... unlike automation or nature, we can choose our responses to the inputs around us.

How do you differentiate between effective system accountability and blaming circumstances on events around you?  How do you hold others accountable who try to "abuse the system"?

After Tax Deductions

Tea-party-protests Yesterday was "Tax Day" here in the United States.  And along with it came numerous "Tea Party" protests across the U.S.

Now say what you want to about the Tea Party, I sort of admire them.  Libertarians with attitude.  Statistically, they are educated and financially well off, dispelling the myth that they're a bunch of militant whackos.  Essentially, they want smaller government and less spending.  They transcend party-lines (because as we all saw during the Bush years, there was some record spending going on within the Republican party, so we can't blame all of the big spending on the Obama-Reid-Pelosi menage-a-trois).

The media likes to dismiss them as disgruntled.  They say "disgruntled" like it's a bad thing.  I personally enjoy those who are disgruntled, at least a little bit.  I tend to learn a thing or two from people who complain.  I learn what's wrong with the status quo.  I learn what doesn't work.  I learn WHO doesn't work.  I learn what's not fair and equitable.  I learn who's getting away with things they shouldn't be.  But most importantly, I learn to keep my eyes open to my surroundings at all times.  When you're a consultant, these are valuable lessons to learn early.  When the tea party has been taxed, they're pretty vocal, and you can deduce a lot of interesting conclusions from them.

Where is your cubicle tea party happening?  What can you learn from them? 

Think Like a (Real) Blackbelt

Jimbouchard I love meeting new people on my journey through social media.  Many of them have the same drive for accomplishment I do, but they have a slightly different take on it.  One such individual is Jim Bouchard.

Jim's brand is about learning to "think like a Black Belt" - and no, I'm not talking the wimpy little Six Sigma type, either.  Jim is a real, honest-to-goodness martial arts stud, semi-pro-football player, and all-around leadership sherpa.  He applies his passions to business and helps other leaders learn to apply the principals of martial arts to their careers and organizations.

Jim and I had a chance to converse on his PowerPod - we talked about his book and about our philosophies of life and accomplishment.  Check it out.  But more importantly, check Jim out.  You won't be disappointed in the least.

By the way, Jim has a new book coming out soon.  I highly recommend you keep your radar up for it... promises to be every bit as amazing as Jim himself is.

Actor In A Supporting Role

DearOP_axiom_500 (Despite my last post's attempt at humor...) I love to write.  The blog has been a wonderful tool for meeting people.  It's been fun and rewarding to author three books.  Another rewarding facet has been as a contributing author for other books.

Last year, Franke James published an outstanding book on office politics based on experiences from the site she owns and edits. Dear Office Politics has been a smash success, and it's my pleasure to congratulate Franke on winning a bronze medal at the Axiom Awards in the HR/Employee Training category. You can read more details about the award and the book here.  It is fun to be able to be on a winning team.  And whenever Franke is at the helm, you can pretty much rest assured that the team will be a winning one!  Way to go, Franke!  (And congratulations to my fellow contributors as well.)

AoC3-231x300 And while we're talking about contributing to books, Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaston have been up to their old tricks again... third time around for Age of Conversation.  So Age of Conversation 3:  It's Time to Get Busy is nearing completion and publication.  And again, I get to play in the sandbox of some wickedly smart people.  There are going to be some amazing contributors and essays in this book (just as in the past two), and again, the proceeds go to charity.  Nobody connected with the book (not even the publishers) are making a dime of profit.  Here are the giving souls who are contributing:

Adam Joseph

Priyanka Sachar

Mark Earls

Cory Coley-Christakos

Stefan Erschwendner

Paul Hebert

Jeff De Cagna

Thomas Clifford

Phil Gerbyshak

Jon Burg

Toby Bloomberg

Shambhu Neil Vineberg

Joseph Jaffe

Uwe Hook

Steve Roesler

Michael E. Rubin

anibal casso

Steve Woodruff

Steve Sponder

Becky Carroll

Tim Tyler

Chris Wilson

Beth Harte

Tinu Abayomi-Paul

Dan Schawbel

Carol Bodensteiner

Trey Pennington

David Weinfeld

Dan Sitter

Vanessa DiMauro

Ed Brenegar

David Zinger

Brett T. T. Macfarlane

Efrain Mendicuti

Deb Brown

Brian Reich

Gaurav Mishra

Dennis Deery

C.B. Whittemore

Gordon Whitehead

Heather Rast

Cam Beck

Hajj E. Flemings

Joan Endicott

Cathryn Hrudicka

Jeroen Verkroost

Karen D. Swim

Christopher Morris

Joe Pulizzi

Leah Otto

Corentin Monot

Karalee Evans

Leigh Durst

David Berkowitz

Kevin Jessop

Lesley Lambert

Duane Brown

Peter Korchnak

Mark Price

Dustin Jacobsen

Piet Wulleman

Mike Maddaloni

Ernie Mosteller

Scott Townsend

Nick Burcher

Frank Stiefler

Steve Olenski

Rich Nadworny

John Rosen

Tim Jackson

Suzanne Hull

Len Kendall

Amber Naslund

Wayne Buckhanan

Mark McGuinness

Caroline Melberg

Andy Drish

Oleksandr Skorokhod

Claire Grinton

Angela Maiers

Paul Williams

Gary Cohen

Armando Alves

Sam Ismail

Gautam Ramdurai

B.J. Smith

Tamera Kremer

Eaon Pritchard

Brendan Tripp

Adelino de Almeida

Jacob Morgan

Casey Hibbard

Andy Hunter

Julian Cole

Debra Helwig

Anjali Ramachandran

Jye Smith

Drew McLellan

Craig Wilson

Karin Hermans

Emily Reed

David Petherick

Katie Harris

Gavin Heaton

Dennis Price

Mark Levy

George Jenkins

Doug Mitchell

Mark W. Schaefer

Helge Tenno

Douglas Hanna

Marshall Sponder

James Stevens

Ian Lurie

Ryan Hanser

Jenny Meade

Jeff Larche

Sacha Tueni and Katherine Maher

David Svet

Jessica Hagy

Simon Payn

Joanne Austin-Olsen

Mark Avnet

Stanley Johnson

Marilyn Pratt

Mark Hancock

Steve Kellogg

Michelle Beckham-Corbin

Michelle Chmielewski

Amy Mengel

Veronique Rabuteau

Peter Komendowski

Andrea Vascellari

Timothy L Johnson

Phil Osborne

Beth Wampler

Amy Jussel

Rick Liebling

Eric Brody

Arun Rajagopal

Dr Letitia Wright

Hugh de Winton

David Koopmans

Aki Spicer

Jeff Wallace

Don Frederiksen

Charles Sipe

Katie McIntyre

James G Lindberg & Sandra Renshaw

David Reich

Lynae Johnson

Jasmin Tragas

Deborah Chaddock Brown

Mike O'Toole

Jeanne Dininni

Iqbal Mohammed

Morriss M. Partee

Katie Chatfield

Jeff Cutler

Pete Jones

Riku Vassinen

Jeff Garrison

Kevin Dugan

Tiphereth Gloria

Mike Sansone

Lori Magno

Valerie Simon

Nettie Hartsock

Mark Goren

Peter Salvitti


I'm done.

It's been a good ride over the last four years of social media.  At first, it was cute and fuzzy.  "Look everybody! I have a blog!"  Then it grew to integral.  I made contacts.  I landed some gigs.  My books got attention.  Then it became arduous.  "Sheesh - another blog post?  What else can I possibly say?"

Now it's just annoying.

Because I live out the philosophy of "If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right" it's time for me to practice what I preach.

So I'm ending it.

Thanks for your support and readership over the past four years.

And for those of you gasping with your eyes bulging and your jaw dropping over this news, you'll get over it.  Tomorrow is another day.  Namely, it's no longer April Fools' Day.


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