John Connolly’s guide for the corporate climbers
COMING up to the festive season, 360 review and bonus time, it’s natural to think about life’s big questions: how do I get my boss’s job or find a new better paid one?
So, today, here are the 10 very pragmatic commandments of getting ahead in a big company. None include power dressing, body language, social media or building your own brand but all are based on more than 40 years of observing how decisions are really made in major corporations around the world.
Get a mentor: Not a personal coach but someone senior in the company who will be flattered by you asking and therefore will go out of their way to make sure you succeed. The higher up the executive ranks the better.
Work in head office: To paraphrase Australia’s own Machiavelli, PJ Keating, “Unless you are running an operation/ division/region or a country you are just camping out. No one serious knows you exist.”
Get lucky: To paraphrase the princess of soul, Tina Turner, “What’s luck got to do with it?” Answer: a lot. Both Niccolo Machiavelli (so famous they named a Sydney restaurant after him) and Peter Drucker (the Godfather of modern management) said things like “opportunity knocks, but it knocks only once, you have to be ready for the accident”. In other words you can’t choose the weather but you can choose what to wear. Do a job you like and work for a company you admire: All large corporations are ultimately degrading so minimise the pain.
Know what you are good at: All strategy comes down to creating differences. Know what your strengths are, build on them and make sure people know about them.
Work harder than anyone else: Don’t buy “the work smart not hard line”. Bosses love staff who work as hard as they do. Just make sure they know.
Be trustworthy: Keep your mouth shut. Don’t gossip. Do what you say you will do. There are very, very few people in any company that a boss can really trust. Be one of them.
Be tough but fair: All of us want leaders who will take the hard decisions but treat people fairly. Model that in your role. Most management theories are fairy
tales we want to believe: Your company will be applying one or more of them so you have to pretend you buy in. But remember successful managers make smart choices, are incredibly persistent and have lots of luck.
Suck up: Until you are in one of the top jobs in your company no one wants to know what you really think. That’s just normal corporate propaganda. Drink the Kool Aid, pretend you like it and tell your boss he or she is a genius for mixing it.