Don’t Run with the Pack and Other Powerful Ways to Thrive in Organizational Life

Effective organizations enable us to harness each other’s strengths, but it ain’t easy working with others.


#1. Don’t always run with the pack.

You disappear if you always fall in line.

Offer constructive dissent. The key term is ‘constructive’.

Any fool can poke holes in an idea. It takes forward-facing insight to disagree in ways that move the agenda forward. 

Offer alternative perspectives as long as they support organizational objectives. A great idea that doesn’t move the agenda forward is a wasteful distraction.

Avoid coming off as resistant. Focus energy on seizing opportunities, more than solving problems or pointing out fault. Make things better or sit down and be quiet.

#2. Swing your hammer mindfully.

You aren’t worthy to lead if you don’t care about your impact on others.

Give voice to your heart in ways that leave the intended impact. Toddlers don’t care how their behaviors affect others.

  1. Choose to focus on things you like about people at least 80% of the time.
  2. Explain your intentions. Tell people what you’re trying to achieve. Become more transparent with intentions when people use your transparency against you. Stay connected when you feel like pulling away.
  3. Evaluate your impact. Check to see if the message they made is the one you sent.
  4. Avoid game playing. Choose direct over subtle and honest over manipulative.
  5. Turn to the future when addressing issues and solving problems.

You’re either oblivious or self-serving if others aren’t part of your operational equation. 

#3. Grab the rope and pull with colleagues.

Be helpful, as long as it doesn’t distract from your core responsibilities.

#4. Align with the priorities of leadership.

A great soccer player won’t help the swim team win.

  1. Ask leaders and managers what they’re trying to accomplish.
  2. Be sure you know why it matters.
  3. Help leaders achieve their objectives, just don’t always run with the pack.

How might leaders thrive in organizational life?

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