Here is the letter I recently wrote regarding how to make an impact in a new work environment.
My dear Nephew,
I hope this message finds you well and firmly established in your new position in the corporate office. Congratulations on that position and again on your promotion.
I have pondered the question you asked me about “any advice about working at head office” and I thought to elaborate on my initial comments.
I mentioned the notion of making your boss famous, a radical notion at the very least, so let me explain.
One of the reasons (not THE reason but one of them) for me leaving previous employment when I was your age, was the overwhelming negativity of the workplace. Having researched the subject of leadership, all the pundits and my experience say the same thing. A work environment that is constantly negative inhibits creativity and generates the fatal spores of learned helplessness. I write in the first chapter of my book just how critical this problem can be and it is the lot of a Leader Who Inspires to address this head on; i.e. inspire people to not lower themselves to the gossip and negative talk, rather seek to influence people to act with more integrity (and dare I say JOY) in their dealings.
Interestingly many researchers and commentators in the improvement and leadership space agree with me notably, Fred Kofman, Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell to name just a few (there are literally scores).
The idea of making your boss famous is nothing new. Please note it is not kissing ass to use the vernacular. Making the boss famous is about taking account of your influence and seeking to do everything in your power to align successful outcomes with the direction that the senior leader is taking. Indeed you shouldn’t be doing anything that doesn’t contribute to their vision. Now I know he probably hasn’t stated a vision but you are a clever guy; work out his modus operandi and seek to align your views, your outcomes, your people with his.
This is of course assuming you agree with the direction your boss is taking the organisation. If you don’t, then that is a separate (and urgent) face to face conversation with me.
Most organisations have outstanding people and others that are less than so. But I always found that, given the right environment in which to work, people can excel to surprisingly high levels. One of the things I NEVER did was make myself part of the ‘normal’. I went out of my way to encourage people to think for themselves and not descend into this idea that we all should think alike; like workplace robots. No … not so!
Of course there is only one career manager YOU so you need to be savvy about the political environment. What I would say though is seek to make your boss famous, assertively manage your direct reports’ personal development and look for ways to help others to shine. This is not something wishy washy; it actually requires more courage and integrity than most people are prepared to expend. When you work in other people’s interests you become more CONGRUENT, ASSERTIVE, CONFIDENT. That is the pleasure that comes with taking the eyes off self and making others famous.
If you feel so disposed, go to leaderwhoinspires.com and purchase a copy of my book and or if you would rather, ask me to bring a copy for you when I come to visit.
One final thing: the lessons of leadership apply equally to your personal life as well.
I hope corporate office is an amazing and enjoyable experience for you. Only one thing can make this so or stop it being a reality – YOU!
Love to your beautiful family,