Please or Register to create posts and topics.

Feigning submissiveness to gain power (and workplace strategy)

So I was reading an article a while back (can't find it!) on how Xi Jinping rose to become the President/Chairman/whatever of China and one thing it mentioned was that his supporters in the communist party and other people who backed him, only did it because they thought he was easy to control. I remember that Hitler had a very similar story. He became Chancellor because he was thought to be easily influenced.

I used to think that if I worked hard and showed ambition, I would get what I justly deserved. However, I think there are flaws to this approach since the person promoting you will see you as an immediate threat and therefore, I think this is very plausible. I have some personal experience in this (other people getting promoted, not me) as well.

How do we apply this in our lives in order to become promoted at work?? What are your thoughts on this?

For sure man.

That's why in the course I stress so much that one must have the ability to go dominant, but spend most of his time in the assertive dimension while also being able to send signals of submissiveness, naivete, or harmlessness, when needed.

Water always wins. Strength and dominance are determined by their breaking points, but water always finds a way by adapting to the circumstances.

I think there is also one more political example either in the course or in the email automation. It's from Italian politics, with the current prime minister put there because he was thought to be an easy puppet.
But once he got there, he showed his true colors. And he wasn't cool with being the easy puppet.

You definitely don't want to overpower your boss until you're ready for the overtake.
You want to be the best in the team, but until you get promoted, always show respect for your boss -or for whoever decides your promotion-. If you feel that he's getting defensive, also make some big displays of deference.

Exceptions apply, as for everything.
For example, if you're getting connected with management which is higher up, or if your boss is on the way our, or if nobody respects your boss and he's just a name tag.
Or if you're adding so much value and accruing so much power that your boss becomes an empty shell of authority -but you're the one with the real power-. In those cases, if it comes to a collision course, you can often prevail and get the boss fired instead of you being fired.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I see, I understand the need to become a chameleon in the workplace and calibrate myself accordingly on the submissive/dominance spectrum. Now with that said, which archetype do you think is the best to feign to be promoted within the ranks? Just a heads up, the notes in the bullet points are just to give you an idea of these stereotypes and are NOT set in stone.

 

The unwavering "Loyalist"

  • Someone that has strong loyalty to their direct supervisor/manager/company
  • Has great work ethic
  • Does not hesitate to get his hands "dirty" so as long as it will keep the boss happy
  • Has strong values that he believes that the boss is a paragon of.
  • Quality of work is high
  • Majority of the value provided is knowing you can count on him to get work done.
  • Will probably be seen as naive and easily manipulated, and therefore be more likely to be promoted.
    • Also, another big plus is that if you have someone who follows through on their values, it will look better for the company

 

The cool social guy

  • Not as crazy work ethic as the Loyalist, but will "shoot the shit" with everyone, especially the higher level managers when possible
  • Will provide value to managers outside of work. For example: tickets to front row seats to a basketball game that is not easy to get, or able to introduce people of value.
  • Quality of work is mediocre.
  • Majority of the value provided is from making people feel good by being a cool social person, and providing value outside of the work context.
  • Will probably be seen as having no values, which means they are more malleable and easily manipulated. Therefore be more likely to be promoted. 

 

The selfish type-A

  • No loyalty whatsoever to any company or person
  • Very inwardly focused. Does not care about shooting the shit with other people
  • Always in the mindset of positioning himself such that the company has no choice but to comply to demands (Conor Mcgregor being a prime example of this)
  • Majority of the value provided is from high quality work, by association (if person is well known), connections with other people/ companies, etc.
  • Will probably be seen as the only logical choice given the circumstances.  The only archetype of the three that is likely to be promoted based on NEED rather than on the basis of being easily controlled and manipulated.

 

Previously, I thought that the selfish type-A is the best way to be promoted. However, I now know that many companies do not think rationally and will pass on someone who's an obvious choice and opt for nepotism or cronyism.  Worst case scenario, your boss will see you as an obvious threat, and will opt to find a way to get rid of you at the cost of the company's future. The other downside is that to put yourself in that position is that it takes a lot of hard work and time. Again, Conor Mcgregor being a prime example.

Of course, I understand that it is best to do a mix of all of them, but if you had to give a percentage breakdown, how would you do it?

Hey JP,

Sometimes questions are half the answer.
And this question frames the argument with some strong assumptions, including:

  1. That there are only 3 styles -or 3 main styles- and that one can't be a good mix of them all
  2. That one could pick one of them, irrespective of company's culture and career level, and expect it to always be superior to another style
  3. That one should feign a type, instead of becoming a type, adopting a certain strategy, or growing one's skillset -feigning is a bad framing, drop that word-

Those are not good assumptions to provide a good answer to what behaviors are most likely to lead to career advancement.

The type-A for example is more efffective when you're more senior, but not when you're learning.
Being kinder, more sociable, and seeking mentors instead is more helpful when you're starting off.

And the type-A must not necessarily be selfish.
Plenty of type-A have strong loyalties to the organizations. Some type-A are actually driven by their loyalty and their sense of belonging to a certain organization. For them, it's like "my brand/company will beat that other brand/company".
Richard Fuld of the defunct Lehman Brothers was one such type: super type-A, but super loyal.

When in doubt, I'd always recommend focusing on learning new skills, which is transferable to any organization, and delivering results and quality work.
When in doubt about politics, always revert to being results-focused and respected (more driver-style), while also adding a layer of warmth (avoiding the asshole trap).

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 21, 2020, 2:06 am

Hey JP,

Sometimes questions are half the answer.
And this question frames the argument with some strong assumptions, including:

  1. That there are only 3 styles -or 3 main styles- and that one can't be a good mix of them all

Actually, I do mention this on the last part of my post:

"Of course, I understand that it is best to do a mix of all of them, but if you had to give a percentage breakdown, how would you do it?"

 

2. That one could pick one of them, irrespective of company's culture and career level, and expect it to always be superior to another style

Of course every case will be different for sure, but I think it's safe to say that a certain mix of these archetypes would work best in the majority of cases, which you mentioned nicely at the bottom of your post.

 

3. That one should feign a type, instead of becoming a type, adopting a certain strategy, or growing one's skillset -feigning is a bad framing, drop that word-

For sure in many cases becoming is better than feigning, but answer me this:

When you're at work, and your boss has a goal that he or she wants to achieve but you think it's stupid, are you going to tell him that? Or are you going to act as if you have the same vision as well? I believe this was mentioned in the course.

During the last US election campaign, Trump mentioned that he would get along well with Putin and was buddy-buddy with him. As a result, Russia had meddled with the election to push the odds in Trump's favor. Obviously, as soon as Trump was sworn in, him and Putin were no longer buddy-buddy. Therefore Trump had merely feigned interest. Had Trump not been feigning to side with Russia, and expressed disdain, how do you think that would affect the results of the election? He might have still won, but I'm sure the odds would go down significantly, and that's the point.

Even if you look at contexts outside of power. Poker players feign each other out all the time. Professional boxers will feign punches all the time as well. I think feigning has it's place. When a man does not have, his next best option is to act as if.

 

Those are not good assumptions to provide a good answer to what behaviors are most likely to lead to career advancement.

The type-A for example is more efffective when you're more senior, but not when you're learning.
Being kinder, more sociable, and seeking mentors instead is more helpful when you're starting off.

And the type-A must not necessarily be selfish.
Plenty of type-A have strong loyalties to the organizations. Some type-A are actually driven by their loyalty and their sense of belonging to a certain organization. For them, it's like "my brand/company will beat that other brand/company".
Richard Fuld of the defunct Lehman Brothers was one such type: super type-A, but super loyal.

When in doubt, I'd always recommend focusing on learning new skills, which is transferable to any organization, and delivering results and quality work.
When in doubt about politics, always revert to being results-focused and respected (more driver-style), while also adding a layer of warmth (avoiding the asshole trap).

Pretty much agree with the majority of the points here.

In the case of a boss asking to do stupid things, tell them you want to learn and ask them why he wants it done that way.
If he convinces you, great: you learned new things.
If he doesn't, still do it because he has more experience and chances are he might know better.
If you do it and it fails, let him know and tell him that this time you will try your own way.
Or try your own way and then report to him you found "this more efficient way of achieving the same result".
If he refuses to listen to your proven point of view, then you know you're dealing with a poor boss.
That's great intelligence to gather (but do keep in mind that in most corporations there is a lot of work to do with little apparent use, but that junior employee still must go through: that's how it is almost everywhere).
At that point, you can either :
  1. actively seek alternative teams
  2. pretend you're obeying what he wants but actually doing it your way
  3. still do it his way, and then learn how to tell him and others that you knew better, but your boss didn't
Here is an example of doing N.3 not in the most effective way:
Quote from JP on February 21, 2020, 5:56 am

Actually, I do mention this on the last part of my post:

That sounds grating to a boss, like you're entering a war with a competitive frame.
Yes, you were right, but it still feels like you are making a point with a "me VS you frame, and I won".

For sure he will want to push back.

Here is a more professional and effective way of saying:

I'm glad we agree, tha's why I said the exact same at the end of my post

Or, even more tactful -you can use this one when people know that you knew better, and that you voice your concern already:

I totally agree, and I'm glad you're building on my own idea

They are all a way of saying "you didn't read my whole message, dumbass", but number 2 and 3 are superior because they use the technique of "agreeing and redirecting", which avoids breaking rapport and setting up competitive frames.

You say the exact same thing, but in a more professionally-effective way.

Doing well in corporate and corporate politcs is a lot about learning to say things and draw personal boundaries while remaining professional.
Professional-speak is a whole new language that many must learn from scratch, because it doesn't come natural to most of os. I will do a proper lesson on this one very soon as I realize it's very important.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Or here is another example to wash your hands and indirectly tell your boss he gave you idiotic tasks:

Hi boss, I followed your instructions to a T, and unluckily it didn't work well

Then propose your different way of doing it.

Or:

Hi boss, I did what you said, and these were the results (a failure).
So then I slightly modified it doing this, and it worked better.

And here is another example of professional-speak.
Once I went to a networking lunch which I considered important, and I thought it was nonsense the 2 MDs of the company set a meeting with me at like 1pm, which is difficult deadline if you're having a network-lunch.

As soon as I walked in late, I said:

Sorry guys, I had lunch with X from Y company (making sure they knew I was furthering the company's interest as well). 
Unluckily sometimes you never know when you hit it off with a good prospect and it will take some longer.
Anyway, here we are now...

I didn't justify myself for being late.
And I indirectly told them that someone in sales should not have meetings near lunch-time. But that was said in professional-speak manner, without ruffling feathers and without giving them a chance to antagonize me.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on February 21, 2020, 7:48 am
In the case of a boss asking to do stupid things, tell them you want to learn and ask them why he wants it done that way.
If he convinces you, great: you learned new things.
If he doesn't, still do it because he has more experience and chances are he might know better.
If you do it and it fails, let him know and tell him that this time you will try your own way.
Or try your own way and then report to him you found "this more efficient way of achieving the same result".
If he refuses to listen to your proven point of view, then you know you're dealing with a poor boss.
That's great intelligence to gather (but do keep in mind that in most corporations there is a lot of work to do with little apparent use, but that junior employee still must go through: that's how it is almost everywhere).
At that point, you can either :
  1. actively seek alternative teams
  2. pretend you're obeying what he wants but actually doing it your way
  3. still do it his way, and then learn how to tell him and others that you knew better, but your boss didn't

This is good advice. I can probably modify and apply this to the dilemma I have in my other post.

Here is an example of doing N.3 not in the most effective way:
Quote from JP on February 21, 2020, 5:56 am

Actually, I do mention this on the last part of my post:

That sounds grating to a boss, like you're entering a war with a competitive frame.
Yes, you were right, but it still feels like you are making a point with a "me VS you frame, and I won".

For sure he will want to push back.

Here is a more professional and effective way of saying:

I'm glad we agree, tha's why I said the exact same at the end of my post

Or, even more tactful -you can use this one when people know that you knew better, and that you voice your concern already:

I totally agree, and I'm glad you're building on my own idea

They are all a way of saying "you didn't read my whole message, dumbass", but number 2 and 3 are superior because they use the technique of "agreeing and redirecting", which avoids breaking rapport and setting up competitive frames.

You say the exact same thing, but in a more professionally-effective way.

Doing well in corporate and corporate politcs is a lot about learning to say things and draw personal boundaries while remaining professional.
Professional-speak is a whole new language that many must learn from scratch, because it doesn't come natural to most of os. I will do a proper lesson on this one very soon as I realize it's very important.

Thanks for the feedback, yes I do realize I'm not the most tactful person in the world. Usually at work if something like this comes up (boss thinks I missed something, when I actually didn't), I will usually NOT address the fact, and I think most people won't. This happens in some social situations as well if the power dynamics are working against me. However, I do think it is important to have the ability to address things which is what I was thinking while writing you the response.

Yes please do a proper lesson on this.

Going back to the original point though, did you think the 2 politicians I mentioned needed to feign submissiveness in order to gain their power position? You did mention the need to act submissive when needed no? Maybe you don't consider that "feigning"?

What are your thoughts on this?

Processing...