Suck Up and Move Up, by Jennifer Reingold, Fast Company, January 2005
This may be, to me, the most hilarious, and yet profound study ever done. I love this, as I've been in corporate America, and boy does this hit it on the head...er, I mean, on the tail...(smile).
"A survey of 1,012 senior managers and CEOs at 138 major companies...show[s] that exhibiting 'ingratiatory behavior' toward your chief executive...
does more to help you get a board appointment than does brandishing a passenger manifest from the Mayflower or an Ivy-covered sheepskin. Put simply, sucking up trumps a noble birth."
Sad to say, women and ethnic minorities "were significantly more likely to use this path to the boardroom than their richer, whiter comrades." Political behavior seems to be the key, as "people feel a natural obligation to help those who have ingratiated them."
Be specific, you say? Flattery, agreeing with the person in charge, favors. And the flip side? Challenging the CEO moves you backwards (you should have known that). And it has been quantified - meaning that there's exact percentage of likelihood as to whether or not you'll be appointed to a board if you do these kiss-up moves often and consistently enough. As Jennifer Reingold said, "Flattery, it seems, really does get you everywhere."
I'm sorry, but I just can't, in good conscience, advise anyone to kiss butt to get ahead. Probably, that's why I could never get ahead in corporate America...I just can't play the games. Call me a silly individualist, but they're a waste of time to me. That's why I'm also out of corporate America to stay (if I can help it). I'd rather succeed on my own terms of integrity, than make millions by doing it deceitfully. But then again, that's just me...
However, can I squeeze just one brainstorm idea out of this? Hmmmmmm....If you really mean it, say something good to the people in charge. If you have to lie, then you don't want to be working for that person anyway. Or maybe, you should move to a department where you really like the person, and it's not officially kissing up if you truly admire and respect the person, and feel free to express your opinion in that regard whenever you are around them. There. A brainstorm idea! If you've got one, send it on in. I'd love to hear your take on this story...or maybe even a couple of play-by-play suck-up stories you've seen (or done?) first hand?