16 Hard Truths About Corporate

deceive-1299043__340When it comes to corporate, people retain certain preconceived ideas about it and corporate fights back setting unwritten rules that are not applicable and indulgent to everyone.

For recent graduates, that are unfamiliar with these rules, transitioning from college to corporate then becomes challenging. At every step of the way, they are being hit by reality and are starting to figure out some hard truths about corporate.

Wondering how to transition to corporate smoothly and how to correct your misconceptions about corporate as soon as possible?

Start reprogramming your mind and integrating these hard truths right now.

Misconception #1: Money is compensatory

Money pays the rent, the car note and the student loan but relying on your pay to cope with the long hours, the office politics and the difficult boss is a mistake.

Money will be compensation enough just for the first few months when you are able to pay the bills. But it will get meaningless where validation, recognition, purpose and fulfillment go a long way.

Developing a healthy work balance, assessing your strengths and weaknesses, and pursuing your purpose are in fact detrimental to career success.

Misconception #2: Your grades are no longer important and your performance in class has nothing to do your performance at work.

What is required of you in corporate, on your first jobs, is not really to understand the different aspects of your job but mostly to understand the task given to you and to execute them.

First of all, your grades will no longer validate you, you will be able to gloat and feel superior anymore. However, you will be having dreaded performance review, once a year, instead of irregular exams. In truth, you will no longer graded on your level of knowledge and your ability to memorize theories but on your ability to work in a team.

Secondly, the company takes all the credit for your work.

Finally, if you missed class back in the days, you could still have caught up with the class and get off with a warning. But if you miss work or are late often, then you become lost in the project and in office politics and you might get fired.

Because you will be judged annually on the collective performance of the team, here are a few tips:

  • Search for the influencers on your team, get along with them and grow your own influence with them.
  • Hold up your end of the bargain in the team and help others pull their weight, without taking credit for it.
  • Keep your personal and ambitious goals in mind for motivation.

Misconception #3: Your diploma will automatically get you a job

In the past, your diploma from an ivy league college will get you a position with status and authority. Nowadays, people are looking for leadership qualities, character, personality, novelty and diversity.

You currently have to go through multiple job interviews, that are now psychological evaluations, competing with someone with the exact same credentials and outperforming yourself, before getting hired by a company.

Misconception #4: Your education will fit the job description

Companies lure low profile, cheap and gullible graduates with polished presentations, attractive job descriptions.

At an entry-level position, your job will be everything and anything the manager wants it to be. Your entry-level position often begins with menial work, beneath you and your education level. And in that case, you will have to put up with it and outdo yourself.

Executing menial work serves the purpose of building trust between you and your team, and of demonstrating your resistance towards hard work.

Misconception #5: You can figure it all on your own

When you arrive in a new company, keep it mind that you cannot figure it all by yourself and you have to be open to learning.

  • Find a mentor to get advice and create a support system.
  • Ask questions to your coworkers to increase your influence and your technical competencies. Learn all the information needed for you to succeed at your job.
  • Takes courses, trainings and keep reading books to develop yourself and your knowledge.

Misconception #6: Your are indispensable to the company

It doesn’t matter which school you graduated from, at entry-level, every employee looks, talks, walks and acts the same. It is highly likeable that you will be treated all the same,  interchanged at some point, moved around from team to team, from projects to projects.

Your status shouldn’t be taken personally. It is a rite of passage.

Misconception #7: Corporate requires common and usual skills

Graduates were required to learn and memorize theories. In corporate, you will be asked to execute soldier-like, be dictated what to write down. Find a way to understand what is asked of you without asking too many dumb questions.

Avoid open debates and correcting your managers like in the classroom.

Misconception #8: The company’s public image and values are legit

hard truth about corporateThe company image and values are not always injected and reflected in the company’s workplace.

Most of the time, hierarchy is not always respected, power is unevenly distributed, roles are attributes unofficially and values are non-existent in the workplace. A toxic and individualistic company can publicly encourage team work and be elected “Best Company to Work in”. It’s all about product marketing.

Misconception #9: Blindly comply to your orders and assignments

Obeying at your bosses beck and call shows your loyalty, your ability to take and follow directions. It is also dangerous because you can take the fall and be thrown under the bus for any failure.

In any case, make sure that you:

  • do what is asked of you to a certain extent.
  • observe your boss’ methods, attitude towards you and others. His or her behavior might be part of his or her process.
  • keep your eyes and ears open in case of bullying and of excessive treatment coming from your bosses.

Misconception #10: Everybody knows better

You might think that evolving to corporate means that everyone there has evolved and matured as well. Everyone is educated and trained for their job, but not everyone is self-trained, disciplined, polite and respectful.

You will definitely encounter toxic coworkers that can easily make your life a living hell if you don’t know how to deal with them.

Misconception #11: You can make friends in the workplace

It is strongly advised not to create deep level of friendships in the workplace because your coworkers are not to be trusted with confidential and personal information.

Misconception #12: Office politics are easy to navigate

Office politics are more difficult to navigate than it seems, especially at an entry-level position because you have to try to be liked and to get along with everybody, from the beginning, without showing that you are making that effort.

Outside of work, you were able to get into a fight with whomever you pleased without ripping any consequences. In the workplace, your ability to assimilate, to fit in and to get along with your coworkers will be tested during the first three months on the job.

What to do then?

  • Be an easy-going, a non-partisan, untalkative, reliable coworker that everyone confides to.
  • Don’t take unpopular opinions, even for your “ally” in the workplace.
  • Show respect for other people opinions.
  • Show deference —not submission— for hierarchy. Avoid stepping on toes and going above someone’s head.
  • Develop character, integrity and a proper attitude.
  • Use laughter to defuse bombs.

Misconception #13: Transparency and candor are welcomed with open arms

Don’t openly correct your managers in front of his or her superiors or subordinates or anyone really before being labeled as a “difficult” or “problematic” employee. Keep your thoughts, opinions and concern to yourself.

There are no rewards in pointing out issues, candidly picking bones with bosses and speaking truth to power.  Your credibility and professional judgement can suffer from it.

Misconception #14: Invest yourself in your job

One of the greatest and most common mistake of young graduates is to invest themselves and their time into their jobs. It is essential for you to:

  • put yourself first.
  • not invest too much in projects nor merge your identity with your role in the company. This way, if a project fails, you will not entirely feel the blowback.
  • accomplish your required hours and put in a few hours here and there on special occasions.
  • build a life for yourself outside of corporate that will be a buffer when the workplace becomes toxic.

Misconception #15: Promotion comes from hard work

It is a wildly known fact that promotion does not come from hard work but from the illusion of hard work.

To get promoted, it is necessary to:

  • not outperform your colleagues. You have to slightly perform better than them otherwise you come off as a show off and your coworkers will hate you,
  • not be overly efficient. Otherwise, you will be setting the bar high, be unprepared for unexpected setbacks and you will be setting a negative precedent for yourself,
  • gain the right influence and acquire the right influencers.

Misconception #16: Promotion will get you respect and authority

Yes, a certain amount of authority and influence is acquired through a promotion. Nevertheless, people won’t follow you or perform beyond your orders and your stated authority. You will only be able to control your subordinates through monetary leverage.

According to John C. Maxwell in Developing the Leader Within You, it is only by building solid relationships with your peers that you will gain influence, increase your credibility and your authority.

You must not pursue a promotion just for the status and the title, without being prepared for higher level of leadership. You must develop self-discipline and character first and avoid attracting negative attention on yourself, at all cost.

Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!

Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor by Bennis, Goleman, O’Toole and Biederman (part 3)

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor is a collection of three essays written by BennisGolemanO’Toole and Biederman.

The new transparency by Warren Bennis

The new transparency, by Warren Bennis, is the third and last essay of Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor. This essay defines digital transparency, focuses on the effects of the “digital revolution” and how it has made transparency quasi inevitable in modern day organizations.

What is the upside of the new transparency?

Transparency notoriously drives success, effectiveness and trust between members of an organization.

The emergence of internet has been able to fill the cultural need for transparency, to break down old rules and traditions, to erase borders and social status barriers.

In particular, the rise of blogs:

  • has transformed the mainstream media. Blogs shape the public opinion. Moreover, mainstream media now rely upon them to exchange and to create loyalty amongst their viewers.
  • has transformed politics (for the better?). Indeed, blogs have increased transparency over the years: in many countries, the government and politicians can no longer hold secrets, maintain exclusive power and absolute control over citizens. Blogs have become a political and diplomatic tool to fight corruption and power abuse.
  • has exposed insiders “secrets to outsiders” in corporations: most bloggers whistleblow freely, safely and anonymously.
  • has changed the societal game. Protests happen in the streets as well in the cyberspace.
  • has evenly distributed information and knowledge. Seeing that knowledge is power, blogs have created a new power that have made leaders “lose their monopoly on leadership”. Blogs have given a digital platform for people from  different nationalities, social categories and spheres of influence to express their opinions.

What is the downside of the new transparency?

First of all, the digital transparency incites a lack of privacy. Most individuals’ confidential information (credit card number, personal records,…) transits openly on internet, which makes them vulnerable to hacking and allows misuse of information and illegal tracking of their information.

Also, the “digital realm is wild and minimally policed”. Some users take advantage of the anonymity of internet to dishonestly compete, to openly attack an institution, organization or another individual under false pretenses.

Digital transparency has devalued, through the mainstream media, “authentic expertise by treating ordinary viewers and readers as the equals of those with genuine insight and experience” to enhance their viewers’ loyalty. Unfortunately, it also impedes their viewers from comprehending or appropriately analysing complex facts and events.

Warren Bennis denotes that blogs, acquiring greater influence and outreach than news paper, will substitute the latter if the content “commit to high standards of accuracy, fairness, and conduct”.

On the internet, where there are no secrets, where information persists for several lifetimes and where truth is relative, users are able to decide the perimeters of transparency,  to fabricate the truth and to create the persona they want. However, users are unable to vet and verify the actual truth.

To read the review on the first essay Creating a culture of candor by Warren BennisDaniel Goleman, and Patricia Ward Biedermanclick here.

To read the review on the second essay Speaking truth to power by James O’Tooleclick here.

Review

SearchTransparency.jpg.jpegThe new transparency by Warren Bennis is a proper conclusion to the book Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor that delivers impartial views on the internet and the blogosphere.

While reading his book, several contemporaneous examples came to mind such as the Black Lives Matter Movement that started in summer 2013, in the United States and has since then spread itself to different countries, to different nationalities and cultures. Social Media and blogs have definitely given the Movement the tools that it needed to speak up about police brutality on African-Americans, to show proof of police misconduct, to syndicate and organize itself and finally, to resist oppression.

One example of the misuse of the internet platform is cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is the bullying of an individual over the internet, through blogs or social media. Many victims of cyberbullying have spoken publicly over this issue but due to the anonymity and the lack of regulation of the internet, the government has not yet found a way to penalize the abusers.

Favorite quote(s)

Transparency would not be a problem in a world in which everyone is decent and fair-minded.

Ratings 3/5

Author

Warren Bennis

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Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor by Bennis, Goleman, O’Toole and Biederman (Part 2)

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor is a collection of three essays written by BennisGolemanO’Toole and Biederman. To read the review on the first essay Creating a culture of candor by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and Patricia Ward Biederman, click here.

Speaking truth to power by James O’Toole

Speaking truth to power, by James O’Toole, is the second essay from Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor.
Speaking truth to power has been a long-standing issue throughout History. It is a very common and complex matter that has direct repercussions on an individual’s life, career and health. In this essay, in order to illustrate the concerns raised by a lack of transparency, many examples have been extracted from literature, from 2500 years of History and from James O’Toole‘s personal experience during his research in corporations.

Why speak truth to power?

Speaking truth to power creates a healthy and successful company culture in any given organization.

What makes speaking truth to power so convoluted?

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Speaking truth to power can be perceived as disloyalty, dissidence, insubordination or non-conformism because it challenges old assumptions, systems that are already in place, defies group-thinking and questions the authority, decisions and ego of the person in power. Speaking the truth also implies having to make the person in power admit their mistake.

James O’Toole blames this impugning perception on the stubbornness, the stupidity and the hubris (arrogance of power) of leaders who reject good advice and are incapable of hearing the truth.

That is why, leaders must openly listen to their employees, understand their working conditions, rethink old assumptions and avoid group-thinking at all cost.

Speaking truth to power does not go without risks: most employees are not willing to report any misconduct or unethical behavior by fear of retaliation, by fear of being reprimanded, by belief that no action will be taken by management or by Human Resources (HR).

How to create transparency and trust within an organization?

According to James O’Toole, corporations should hire at leisure a “corporate fool”, term quoted by Verne Morland, an executive at NCR in the 1980s. A “corporate fool” is a modern day jester that is capable and licensed to speak truth to power and create controversy. The role of the “corporate fool” can be associated to the role of women in modern day organizations. Indeed, women are unafraid to challenge the system and to speak truth to power in corporations as they have only recently been evolving in the male-dominating corporations and as a result have not learnt any ethical misbehavior. Not to mention, women have throughout History stood up courageously to authority at the peril of their lives.

Below are the characteristics that a leader must abide by to enforce transparency within their organization:

  • Leaders must consistently tell the truth to their followers.
  • Leaders must be comfortable with the truth.
  • Leaders must practise integrity.
  • Leaders must demonstrate appropriate respect towards their followers by sharing relevant information and actually including them in the flow of information.
  • Leaders must gather the necessary information before making any type of decision.
  • Leaders must value openness, empower those who tell the truth and must not reward those who do otherwise.
  • Leaders at the top should not reward other leaders for their ability to compete nor congratulate leader’s misconduct.

Moreover, followers must be willing to put themselves on the line to be able to correct their bosses. “In sum, before speaking truth to power can be considered virtuous, the act must meet several criteria:

  • It must be truthful.
  • It must do no harm to innocents.
  • It must not be self-interested (the benefits must go to others, or to the organization).
  • It must be the product of moral reflection.
  • It must come from a messenger who is willing to pay the price.
  • It must have at least a chance of bringing about positive change (there is no virtue in tilting at windmills).
  • It must not be done out of spite or anger.”

Throughout History, organizations have punished those that speak truth to power, have challenged their loyalty, have put their sanity to the test, have labelled them as crazy or angry people.

So why blow the whistle?

Whistleblowers are loyal to their organization and not assumably to their leaders. When the leaders betray the values and the integrity of the organization, whistleblowers come forth and are ready to denounce publicly any signs of foul-play.

Is there an appropriate time for whistleblowing or for speaking truth to power?

The time is right when one is mature enough to objectively analyze the situation at hand and is virtuous enough to be able to temper his or her anger.

To read the review on the first essay Creating a culture of candor by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and Patricia Ward Biederman, click here.

Review

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Speaking truth to power is perfect for leaders who are looking to understand what transparency is all about and are starting to implement it in their organization.

In Speaking truth to power, James O’Toole makes us realize how far this issue goes back, how much human nature is to blame for a lack of transparency and why a step has not been taken to generally encourage transparency, even though success, effectiveness and trust should be incentives for corporations.

In reality, speaking from personal experience, most candid, virtuous and conscientious people do not climb the career ladder in corporations and sojourn at the bottom until they learn to moderate their opinion. Otherwise, they are perceived by team members and leaders as being weak, insubordinate, insolent and disloyal.

I’ve seen many straightforward people being exemplarily managed out of corporations while leaders kept asking their employees to be transparent and while those who did the leader’s dirty deed were promoted. As a result, it created a toxic and unsafe environment where no one would speak up (not even HR) to the wrongdoings of management.

If candid people are not able to sugarcoat their opinion, they end up whistleblowing or leaving the organization. And so, I did.

Favorite quote(s)

In a recent scientific survey of a cross-section of American workers, over two-thirds report having personally witnessed unethical behavior on the job, but only about a third of those say they reported what they observed to their supervisors. The reasons given for their reticence range from fear of retaliation to the belief that management would not act on the information appropriately.

In essence, trust is hard to earn, easy to lose, and, once lost, nearly impossible to regain.

Ratings 4/5

Author

James O’Toole

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Warren Bennis

Warren Bennis is a Professor of Management at the University of Southern California and Chairman of the Board of Harvard University’s Center for Public Leadership. Warren Bennis is also the co-Author of Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor.

​Patricia Ward Biederman

Patricia Ward Biederman is a prize-winning reporter and columnist.​ Patricia Ward Biederman is also the co-Author of Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor.

James O’Toole

James O’Toole is a Professor of Business Ethics at the University of Denver’s Daniels College of Business. James O’Toole is also the co-Author of Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman is a psychologist, codirector of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, based at Rutgers University. Daniel Coleman is also the co-Author of Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor.

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor by Bennis, Goleman, O’Toole and Biederman (Part 1)

Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor is a collection of three essays written by Bennis, Goleman, O’Toole and Biederman.

Creating a culture of candor by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman, and Patricia Ward Biederman

Creating a culture of candor, by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and Patricia Ward Biederman, is the first essay from Transparency: How Leaders Create a Culture of Candor. It reveals the effects of transparency and lack thereof in organizations. Transparency is defined as “the degree to which information flows freely within an organization, among managers and employees, and outward to stakeholders.”

This essay also describes ways to implement a culture of candor and stresses the fact that the rise of digital technologies made it almost impossible for organizations to keep secrets or remain opaque.

Transparency is a choice to make that brings success, additional clarity and instills trust. However, most companies don’t chose candor and openness: true transparency is hard, as much as true honesty is.

Leaders find it hard to be transparent:

  • In today’s world, the race to become number 1 brings leaders to overlook any wrongdoings or any existing flaws.
  • Another reason is that leaders need to make an immediate decision and look decisive. Therefore, leaders tend to dismiss information.
  • Knowledge is power and by virtue of human nature, most people, leaders included, enjoy hoarding information to feel powerful and superior.

Followers find it hard to be transparent:

  • Followers do not directly transfer raw internal information to the leader(s). The raw information is limitedly conveyed, colored and sugar-coated.
  • Followers think of leaders as demigods: they admire them and praise them. This attitude prevents followers from criticizing their leaders or speaking the awkward truth to them.

When there is no transparency, whistleblowers, loyal or not, patriotic or not, reveal the truth at the peril of their life because they believe that the organization’s secrets is too unscrupulous to keep and that the organization’s values no longer align with theirs. Whistleblowers put their lives at risk, are often shunned, demoted for speaking the truth. With the development of internet, secrecy is almost impossible and whistleblowers are no longer at risk and can reveal secrets anonymously. Blogs have become an unstoppable force, capable of damaging big and perennial corporations, institutions and individuals, of economically boycotting companies. Thankfully, blogs have protected and enabled whistleblowers.

How to create a culture of candor?

In order to implement a culture if candor, followers, on one hand, must feel free to speak up and to speak openly. On the other hand, leaders must value the truth, welcome unpleasant information and reward such openness.

  • Leaders must combat transparency by demanding feedback from their team and listening to the feedback.
  • Leaders must not to be overconfident about their own leadership capabilities.
  • Leaders must treat the follower’s ideas with importance and take counsel from the follower. Leaders must seek information at all level of chain.
  • Leaders should be allowed to be prudent and to take their time in order to make a decision.
  • Internal information flow must be treated as importantly as the information coming in and out of the organization.
  • Transparency should be mechanized by installing whistleblower software (EthicsPoint and Global Compliance Services for example) to enable employees to report anonymously any wrongdoings and to alert to any problems.
  • Whistleblowers should not be ostracized for speaking up.

Bennis, Goleman and Biederman finally compare organizations secrets to the dark secrets kept by family members. In families as in organizations, the lack of transparency introduces toxic secrets that are unfortunately well kept. These secrets tightly bond employees, which make it hard for a member to come forth by fear of being expelled, punished, by fear of threatening or destroying an entire organization. Furthermore, these employees take pride in belonging to such a tight-knit organization, leading to feelings of superiority and to group-thinking.

Group-thinking is defined as the “subsequent congressional investigation made an explicit diagnosis of groupthink—a process in which unfounded assumptions drive a plan of action and contradictory information is suppressed, along with any doubts about the assumptions themselves”. Although group thinking brings in cohesiveness, it allows only one pattern of thinking and generally leads to one unique bad decision.

Review

images-31.jpg.jpegCreating a culture of candor, by Warren Bennis, Daniel Goleman and Patricia Ward Biederman is a very interesting and well written essay. It provides us with pertinent examples, gives rise to contemporaneous observations and administers great advice for effectively creating a culture of candor.

While I was reading this essay, the Volkswagen scandal kept coming to mind in 2015 where the performance results of 11 millions cars worldwide where altered to admit a low carbon-dioxide emission levels. In the race to success, Volkswagen has not been candid with the public or to the Environmental Protection Agency.

This essay still highlights many current issues where numerous ethical issues present in modern corporations. It was surprising to see, even with the rise of digital technologies, how many corporations, organizations and institutions remain opaque.

Favorite quote(s)

In idea-driven organizations—and which are not these days?—genuine, collegial Leaders collaboration leads to better morale, a greater likelihood of creativity, and greater candor and transparency.

Ratings 4/5

Author

Warren Bennis

Patricia Ward Biederman

Daniel Goleman

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