in Business, Creativity, Motivation, Philosophy, Psychology

Becoming The Top Dog – Can You Handle It?

“In a corporation, there can only be one guy in the end: the CEO.” — Lee Iacocca

Do you agree with that statement? Are you ready to be the top dog?

Well, you’ll need to learn how to navigate the environment.

Each way of navigating can be right or wrong depending on the people, policies, and unwritten rules of the situation and company.

Sometimes approaching people by being idealistic results in a mismatch with the reality of the situation. At other times it’s the best way to go.

Some might feel that Machiavellian tactics are slimy but might turn out to be wholly appropriate given the circumstances. What you need to do is to take long hard look at yourself and understand whether or not you’re even interested in walking down that path.

It’s more about how you think rather than what you think.

Ask yourself if you’re the best person for the job? Or are you better and, in fact, more satisfied being the 8th or 226th person at the company?

Perhaps the pressures and politics required both for attaining and maintaining the position isn’t where you’ll be at your best or happiest.

A healthy amount of self-awareness is going to yield better results than achieving the status you think you should have rather than what’s actually best for you, the people around you, and the company itself.

Ford Assembly Plant

Some assembly required.

I remember several years ago being asked to become a store manager. While I was young and ambitious I felt that despite the salary increase and perks I wouldn’t be happier or better off.

First of all I’d be considered responsible towards two parties that couldn’t see eye to eye. The board and the personnel.

I enjoyed the autonomy my position afforded me, so I said no. It turned out to be the right move.

That way I was better able to influence both the leadership, personnel, and board without being considered “loyal” to one party or the other.

This put me in a far better position later on when I negotiated for another position that enabled me to work closer with the CEO and learn from him.

If I’d only been hungry for titles and a bigger paycheck I wouldn’t have been able to “play the long game” and see how to put myself in the best possible position to succeed.

Did this move guarantee a good outcome? Nope.

Pompeii Dice Players

Roll the dice!

There were several other things that happened that enabled me to accomplish things that I couldn’t have otherwise. Mainly it gave me one of the most precious resources: Time.

Not taking a step up the ladder gave me time to reflect, analyze the situation, and look for other opportunities as they arose.

Now, this might seem “cunning”, “manipulative”, or “sly”. But it came from a place of knowing what I wanted as well as what the company needed.

Had I accepted the position I wouldn’t have served either party well. Every time I “influenced” people I made sure that it served their best interest as well.

If the things I wanted to accomplish would come at the expense of others or the company, I wouldn’t do it.

To be very honest when I was in my teens and developing these skills, I would abuse them. I came to regret this deeply because it hurt people that I cared about very much.

You need to set clear boundaries and make sure that everyone benefits, not just you.


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