This was a very cynical, yet highly enjoyable book. It promotes quite a negative view on workplaces. An accurate view? I’m not sure, honestly.
This book was about getting promoted, and the different ways that people are promoted. While a big theme of the book was concentrating on Incompetent Executives, it recognises that there are many Competent Executives who also use these tricks as well.
Also valuable was the definition of the Lost Souls, and their behaviours that you should not utilise in the office if you want to be taken seriously.
- Organising social events. Don’t do it. It’s non-important work and the organiser is rarely taken seriously, it’s personal assistant stuff. Of course, you can organise stuff with your friends, but don’t organise the official team bonding stuff. You’ll get stuck in that role.
- Gossiping. This is a tricky one, because gossiping is often a) a great way to bond with people and b) a reliable way to find out information “on the grapevine” about the company. His point is that you do not want to be seen gossiping—especially not by someone in power. It’s going to really damage you. I understand his point, but don’t agree that the bonds formed by gossiping are useless—they can certainly help you get in at other companies when they inevitably leave.
- No-Change agent. Someone who is stuck in their ways. They are afraid of change and reject it. You must be the opposite of this, and embrace change. Resisting is futile.
Smart but Stationary managers
- Go-to guy. This is the guy who solves all the problems for your manager. I think this is a great role to play early in your career as it builds competence and skills that you can transfer elsewhere. The point of the book, however, is that long-term it isn’t a good strategy. Your boss becomes attached to you – they aren’t going to be happy for you to move sideways in the company. You are also going to be dependent on the success of your boss, and you’ll never surpass him because you won’t have the opportunities to display leadership. But if you bail companies, that doesn’t matter.
- Passion player. Those with an idea or a vision for the company who are really passionate about it. They try to get everyone on board with their idea, and complain and become passive-aggressive when people aren’t listening to them. They are unable to emotionally distance themselves from their ideas – they can’t cultivate the air of objectivity that is needed.
- Task master. You have high standards and you have high standards for everyone around you as well. As a task master, you push and hold everyone to their responsibilities and to create work that is of sufficient quality. You become frustrated with those who slack off and you create conflict when you challenge them. This strategy leads to not being liked, and any strategy for your career that is based around not being liked is a flawed one.
The success stories.
- Jack of all trades. These are generalists – good at a number of different fields, but not too good to be locked into a particular role. They float around the company filling up different holes. Also very self-confident people
- Mr Big Picture. Cultivates an air of objectivity. Presents different ideas forward and doesn’t pick favourites. Provides a decision making framework for others to make the call on what the best option is. Gets credit for when the decision is good, and can avoid the blame for when the decision is bad. Refers to “the company” a lot to deflect blame onto an entity.
- Precision Passive Aggressive. Creates an air of superiority over colleagues by trying to mentor them. Often invites themselves along to your meetings to “help out” or to make sure we “stay on the same page”, to take credit for your successes or to marginalise you on a big project.