What gets people ahead in business? They know how to float. Floating has nothing to do with swimming. It has everything to do with how you engage other people at work. If you can float in business, then I promise you that you will get ahead. If you can’t float, good luck. You’re going to work a lot harder than you need to. Want to float? Here’s how.
Everyone is equal. People who float will effortlessly move around an organization. How do they do it? They seem to so easily engage the people around them. Do they have the gift of gab? Are they smarter than everyone else? No. What they do is treat everyone with dignity and respect. They speak with everyone from the highest manager to the lowest assistant in the same respectful way. Have you noticed that some people treat their superiors differently than their subordinates? Don’t do it if you want to get ahead. People who float treat everyone the same. I’ll never forget what one of my friends at work said as he commented about another coworker, David. David treated people differently depending on what their salary grade was. Upward, he was a sycophant. Downward, you wouldn’t get the time of day. At a company-wide meeting, my friend said, “If Joe Senior Manager stops short, David is going to break his nose.” Of course David’s behavior was the topic of conversation–and ridicule– at that meeting.
Floaters come with other advantages. When I got my first promotion, I knew I wasn’t the only one qualified for the job. There were probably 10 other people who could do the job well. What differentiated me was that there were many different levels of people in my organization who knew me and wanted me to succeed. I didn’t put my name in the promotion hat. Someone else did. Then the rest of my supporters chimed in. That’s how I got the job.
They did it. Imagine that you participated on a team. It’s time to present the team’s work to management. The team leader gets up and says, “Let me describe what I did. It was my idea to implement this solution to the problem.” Are you thinking this would never happen? Guess again. I saw this happen and I gasped in disbelief when I heard it. People who float bring others along with them as they rise up. They present the work they do with the word “we” not “I.” This strategy pays enormous dividends, too. When you give other people credit at work, they appreciate the gesture. From my experience, the kindness always comes back to you at some point, too. Takers in business do poorer than people who give more. If you manage others by taking from them, I promise you that your subordinates will give you the least they can. If you give more, you’ll get more.
I like to think that people who float in business are able to because they are supported by others. That’s why I see them as floating. They’re respected by others. They are held in high esteem. Sure you can get ahead without the respect of the people you work with. Just remember, when you manage people who lack respect for you, plan on never having an emergency. If you do have a problem, it’s going to be all yours and your staff will do as little as possible to help you stay afloat. That’s not my choice. I don’t want to sink in business. I would rather float.