Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Be Napoleonic

At professional conferences, I usually steer clear of sessions designed to facilitate participants’ personal and professional growth. While this certainly isn’t a good thing, I can’t help but feel that in an industry where we’re constantly focusing on career development, I’d rather spend those valuable conference hours concentrating on larger issues like strategy, big picture questions, and tangible best practices. That being said, at an excellent conference I attended last week, I found myself in a session entitled: “Managing Your Boss” or How to Get Ahead Without Losing Your Job! There were many great take-homes from this engaging session, but for the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to concentrate on just one.

Among the success strategies presented for “managing your boss,” the one that stuck out most in my mind was this advice: Be Napoleonic. No, not short and French. Rather, follow Napoleon’s commitment to completed staff work. Apparently, one of Napoleon’s generals was suffering huge losses during the attack of something or other. And he came to Napoleon’s tent to report as much. Napoleon’s answer? What are you going to do about it! You see, Napoleon wanted his staff to bring him solutions, not problems.

Alright, by now you probably know where I’m going with this, but just to be clear . . . don’t just come to your boss with problems. Instead, show them what you can do. Say that a week before a big event, you’re still 15 participants short of the number you’d hoped for. Rather than simply letting your boss know you’re screwed, tell her what the problem is, what steps you’ve already taken, who you’ve reached out, where you’re continuing to publicize the event, and what your plan is going forward. Bien?

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