Follow these rules and you might just get to that corner office; ignore them and you might end up as roadkill — lying dead by the side of the corporate highway as others drive right past you.
No one is entitled to anything!
Hear this now: No one inside a company is entitled to anything. Not one thing. Not ever. If you think you are entitled to a promotion, to more money or to a big office, you are not.
Business has nothing to do with entitlement — it’s about achievement. If you consistently deliver the goods, your rewards will come.
I am not in favor of staff programs that reward seniority or tenure. The stakes for a new employee should be the same as those for a long-term employee. In some countries teachers have their job for life once they survive a tenure period. That’s crap! I couldn’t care less about tenure. Under tenure arrangements, employees can coast. That will never be allowed in a successful company. If you don’t perform, you can’t keep your job!
Get your fists up, it’s time to punch the clock and go a round with the boss…
You are not going to get ahead without a very major commitment to your job in terms of pure hours. I have worked all over the world over the past 20 years and have found this to be universally true, but North America is the toughest.
Whether it’s by recording billable hours or setting up an environment where long hours are the expectation, professional service firms use time spent at work as an important way to measure an individual’s commitment and contribution. Put in the hours and squeeze every bit of productivity possible out of every minute of the day.
If you don’t put in the hours, someone just as smart and clever as you will. I avoid working weekends, but sometimes it can’t be helped. I pound out the hours from Monday to Friday: never less than 60 a week. Work like a dog during the week, but try not to work at all on weekends. You need two days to rest, relax and have fun. You will be more productive when you are working if you have had a break.
No matter what your job is, do it a little harder and a little longer each and every day.
You can’t win a fight with your boss
A very quick way to destroy your career is to pick a fight with your boss. It is a fight you cannot win under any circumstances.
Disagreement and debate is a healthy exercise that usually helps companies and individuals reach correct decisions. Accept that you will have many debates with your boss during your career. Debate all you want, but don’t let the debate escalate into a fight. It’s fine to make your points, but always accept your boss’s final call and move on — your boss will never forget a heated disagreement.
Know your boss
What is the best way to keep your boss informed? Would your boss prefer a short e-mail, a phone call, a voice mail — or some combination? If you don’t know, find out. The first rule of communicating with your boss is: Give it to them the way they want it and make their life easier.
Read books — become an expert
It is easy to become an expert on almost any topic — read five books on the subject and bang, you know it all. In general, it is pretty good, albeit simple advice.
Focus on business-oriented books that make it onto the New York Timesbest-seller list. You should constantly be in search of the next big trend or idea.
Know your numbers
Numbers never lie. Executives must know their numbers inside and out. You must always be ready to answer questions or defend your position regarding the financials. If you need help, ask for it. It isn’t complicated and it is critical to your success. Dig around for the facts and don’t be too weak to acknowledge your difficulties in understanding financials.
Better learn to live with office politics because they’re here to stay…
Early in your career you will be given routine performance reviews. These are important. As you advance to senior levels, you probably won’t be given performance reviews willingly. If you ask for one, which you should, you will probably receive one. If not, ask your boss to lunch and talk to him about your strengths and weaknesses. Even if your boss is non-confrontational, you will undoubtedly hear a few things you can work on.
Office politics are a fact of corporate life, and the bigger the company, the more complex and ferocious the politics are. In an office situation, everyone is trying to get ahead and gain an advantage. Everyone has their own strategy, which breeds politics. Some play dirty. Understand who the players are and set a personal strategy for how to deal with them effectively.
Grandstanders are people who make more out of a topic or issue than it deserves — often to the detriment of others, and always for personal gain. You can only get away with grandstanding once (usually) in most companies. After that you will be labeled a self-serving loudmouth. Grandstanders are simply trying to get ahead at the expense of others. Grandstanding is a quick way to lose supporters and fall out of the game — make sure you don’t do it.
Prepare for your big presentation
In a large company, you get very few chances to present to the top one or two people. If you get one, make sure you are really ready. Synthesize your message and minimize the number of charts. “Dumb down” the information. Remember, the top execs are usually a mile wide and an inch deep: They are paid to know something about everything, but in most cases, they won’t have all the details.
Lots of careers are killed by bad presentations. Preparation and knowing your audience is king! Remember:
• Invest time in preparation.
• Know your audience.
• Simplify your material and message.
• Make recommendations and conclusions.
• Summarize when you are closing.
• Finish your presentation on time.
• Say “thank you” to your audience.
climb the ladder
Now go out and apply the knowledge you have gained from these few rules of success. The process of learning will accelerate your path to correct action, and taking correct action is what will get you ahead inside companies of any size at a faster pace. Find your own way to take action: The world needs better leaders.