Inspired by Michael Hyatt.
Every generation has it’s examples of ruthless, ill-mannered, megalomaniac leaders. But for those of us who don’t want to throw haymakers at everyone we work with, is there another way to the top?
I once read the biography of Al Neuharth called Confessions of an SOB. Al was a tycoon in the growing media industry of the 70’s and 80’s. He founded USA Today, and was the long-time CEO of Gannet company. He was also a conniving, self-centered hustler, strong-armer, and self-proclaimed “Son of a B*tch”. He burned bridges, blew through marriages, and left a trail of tears made from the many who got in his path along the way.
I found myself reading Neuharth’s book, fascinated by his negotiation tactics, creative business ideas, hard work, and persistence (It’s a fantastic read…i would recommend you pick up a cheap copy on Amazon). But what i found sad was that he amassed fame and fortune but lacked connection and relationship.
More recently, a few name like Steve Jobs* and Donald Trump come to mind when you think of a mean boss. Jobs (who purposely parked in handicap spots) and Trump (who is known for saying hurtful things to employees in large group settings) are, like Neuharth, some of the most successful bosses of all-time.
***I’ve written before about the legacy & greatness of Steve Jobs…but just like everything else, you have to take him with a grain of salt.
The rift with rude
With great respect to the SOB’s and wearers of mock turtleneck sweaters, i choose to reject the notion that you must shout and sling chairs to create, innovate, motivate, and accomplish success.
And i’m not the only one who feels this way.
A recent study showcased in an April 2015 Harvard Business Review article reveals that CEOs with high levels of character are more successful than those who have low character. It says,
CEOs whose employees gave them high marks for character had an average return on assets of 9.35% over a two-year period. That’s nearly five times as much as what those with low character ratings had; their ROA averaged only 1.93%.”
While the result of this survey are astounding, i found it equally as interesting who was rated highly and what their backgrounds are. One was an entrepreneur who took his dad’s storm door shop from 30 employees to over 1,500. Another was the CEO of America’s largest outdoor retailer, REI. And finally, a surgeon who took management of a large, innovative healthcare company.
Good guys can win
This is evidence that there is hope for those of us who hope to gain influence – and shhh….maybe wealth – without hanging our reputations and relationships out to dry. I believe it’s possible to get ahead without falling into the trap.
Here are a few ways that good guys will ALWAYS get ahead.
Obtain a moral compass
There are some places where only desperate jerks tread.
These types would throw their co-workers under the bus if it meant an extra commission, bonus, or up-tick in Market Cap. A “slip up” in excel sheet, or forgery of tax documents (for a small chunk of change) is not worth a stain on your career. People far prefer to work for, and hire, honest people to those who cheat, connive, and devour.
Questionable behavior only represents potential temporary benefit while character is a choice for the long hull. A line of hit-or-miss volatility over a steady, upward trajectory.
Plus it’s just easier to live life without looking over your shoulder.
Treat others with R-e-s-p-e-c-t
Put simply, treat other people the way you would want to be treated.
Society tells you not to respect until respect is earned. But even strangers and those of little status deserve to be treated with respect.
Choosing to respect people’s time, methodology, style, background, ethnicity, language, etc. (even if you don’t like it or agree) can go a long way in winning favor. While some bosses openly crucify well-intentioned mistake-makers, a good leader knows that a small dose grace can earn a large stride of approval.
Respecting others is an investment that yields loyalty, trust, and honor from those you work with. Navigate this carefully and you’ll have an army of people ready to follow you into battle.
Be open to listen and engage
Businesses thrive on ideas. Success hinges on innovation and creativity.
Imagine you have a groundbreaking thought. Who would you feel more comfortable sharing this with: someone who values what you have to say, or someone who dictates what is right/wrong without a discussion?
Leaders are accelerated by the the talent and potential that is around them. Bright individuals will naturally be more open to sharing new ideas with those who value them and those they trust. They want them to be the first ones in-the-know and the first one on board.
The truth is people enjoy connecting with nice people who care. Making people feel valued starts with a general concern for who they are. Find out more about your co-workers and team members next time your around the watering hole, lunch table, or coffee machine. Intentionality and listening can go a long way.
Empower the people around you
Hogging and stealing the spotlight is a repulsive quality. It demotivates and kills momentum.
But deflecting praise and lifting others up on your shoulders makes others want to get involved.
For the most part, everyone works for money. However, we also work for recognition, satisfaction, and to overcome challenges.
Michael Hyatt says “Letting your team shine by recognizing and highlighting their contribution is a simple but powerful way to keep them emotionally engaged.”
Recognize their contributions, give them tools to succeed, and celebrate them when they do.
Some would consider winning at work and winning at life to stem from different skillsets or moral foundations, that you can separate the 2 like dividing church and state. But often, succeeding at work doesn’t come from what’s written on your resume, but from how you treat people and how you guide your life.
Nice guys can win. Kind people can come out on top, and even take others there with them.