Playing nicely in the Executive Arena

We all know that it’s almost impossible to go through corporate life without ruffling some feathers, stepping on some toes, and putting some noses out of joint. In fact, if you’re a mover and a shaker, there’s a pretty strong chance that you’ve elbowed some people out the way, and not everyone loves you. What’s important though, is to ensure that there are more people (important ones, with influence and credibility) who love, like or respect you, than those who want to see you fail.

And this becomes particularly relevant when you decide to make a career move to another company! Why???

A few weeks ago I was once again reminded how small the corporate landscape is in Canada. In fact, when it comes to the executive layer of professionals, it’s more of a hockey rink than a landscape. And when you segment the hockey rink into industry sectors, all you really have is patch of ice in the back yard. And then ask what the likelihood is of encountering people in your back yard, whom you’ve worked with at a previous employer in the same industry sector…..the answer is: VERY, VERY LIKELY!!

As a result there is a very strong chance that when you join a new organisation, you’re going to come into contact with people you’ve rubbed shoulders with previously in the executive arena. Those people potentially have the power to put obstacles in your path, from discrediting you, to general mud-slinging. And that’s IF you get the job!

We recently presented a group of 5 executives as candidates for a COO role. As it turned out, each of these candidates was known by at least one member of the executive team or Board. 4 of them were subsequently interviewed and the 5th was not. Why? Because his ruthless tactics when working with one of the Executive Team at another company, led to his becoming blackballed from this opportunity despite having all of the requisite skills for the job. Avoidable? Certainly – if you’re smart and deft enough to climb the corporate ladder without trampling on colleagues or leaving lasting wounds.

So play nicely or you could be on thin ice when looking for your next executive role!stock_business_people_group_by_stiegssen-d3ez9iw

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