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The woman who made self-presentation an art shows how to use professional presence to stand out, fit in and move ahead. Covers the empowering pause, posture, gestures, and more.
|Publisher:||Grand Central Publishing|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.75(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Basis for Business Success
Roger's career was at a standstill. He had been passed over for a half dozen promotions in the last two years.
"I don't understand it," he said. "I come into the office early and stay late. I make all my deadlines, even if I have to work nights and weekends to do it. You'll never catch me huddled in the hallways shooting the breeze with my colleagues or see me grandstanding at staff meetings. I'm paid to do a job and I do it. I do it well. I'm smarter and more productive than half the guys who started at the same time I did. So why are they heading departments and up for vice-presidencies while I'm stuck in limbo, doing the same things at the same level I've been at for the past few years?"
Mark, an ambitious young editor, found himself in a similar situation. However, he had begun to figure out why he wasn't zooming up the corporate ladder as planned. "I know my stuff," he said. "I'm good at what I do. But I'm a washout at office politics. Every time I turn around I'm either saying something I shouldn't or kicking myself for keeping my mouth shut when I should have spoken up. Making small talk with authors and agents at cocktail parties isn't my strong suit either. I break into a cold sweat just thinking about it, and even when I tell myself, 'Get out there and make a good impression. Go up to that guy and introduce yourself. He won't bite your head off,' I can't bring myself to do it. I just freeze up in social situations and it shows. My boss has mentioned it more than once. She keeps telling meto loosen up, that I'll never get ahead in business unless I learn to make the right impression and get along with people in any situation."
Karen, a bright, capable, lifelong overachiever, received a similar message from her boss right before he fired her. "You work hard," he explained. "You're honest and smart and competent, but you're aloof and seem determined to do everything all by yourself. We work as a team here, and you're not a team player. You don't relate well to people. You have no people skills."
Karen was shocked. Devastated. And, once her boss's words sank in, she was confused. "Why hadn't hard work or productivity and not something as intangible as 'relating to people'been the deciding factor?" she wanted to know. She couldn't believe that "people skills" really mattered that much.
The head of a large architectural firm knew that they did. He had this to say about an employee whose job was in jeopardy, despite his wonderfully innovative ideas and award-winning designs: "Jerry's probably the most talented architect working here, but he has no tact. No finesse. No feel for the human side of the business. His abrasive 'I know what I know and everyone else doesn't' attitude has cost us one lucrative contract already, and we can't afford another fiasco like that. If he can't learn to deal with his colleagues and clients more appropriately, we'll have to let him go."
As a consultant and lecturer hired by small businesses and huge corporations worldwide, I have advised, observed, and trained thousands of people like Roger, Mark, Karen, and Jerry hard-working, smart, honest men and women who were getting nowhere, getting into trouble, and even getting fired because they: "had poor chemistry," "couldn't develop rapport," "had no impact," "were sharp but didn't step up to the plate and take control of the power that could be theirs," "lacked people skills."
If you are capable, efficient, dedicated, and diligent but not advancing in your chosen field or as rapidly as you had hoped, chances are that you have become bogged down for those same reasons. Even if hard work, long hours, and technical expertise are enabling you to hold your own right now, unless you are proficient in the human side of business as well, you could be in for a rude awakening in the future. As Roger, Mark, Karen, Jerry, and countless others have done, at some point in your career, you will find out that competence alone does not lead to professional success.
To get to the top, stay there, and be truly successful in the business world, you need: presence as well as performance; emotional strength and the ability to get along with many different types of people as well as skill and intellect; and courage, luck, and the ability to communicate effectively as well as hard work.
This book is about those attitudes and abilities. It shows you how to develop them and how to use them to make your professional life as satisfying and successful as it possibly can be. It also leads you along the path others have taken on their way to the top.
LEARN FROM THE BEST
Like most of my clients, I was raised on the Protestant work ethic. I heard the usual adages about little strokes felling great oaks and early birds catching the worm, and I had no qualms about putting my "shoulder to the wheel and nose to the grindstone" or trying again if at first I didn't succeed. By putting those principles into practice, I racked up a list of accomplishments before entering the business world and sincerely believed that as long as I continued to work hard, I would continue to achieve my goals. But instead of my being as successful in business as I had been at other endeavors, I found my potentially brilliant career grinding to a halt just two years after it began.
Like Karen, I got fired because I didn't relate well to people and I too was stunned. Before that fateful day, no one had even mentioned the importance of people skills to me. No course I had ever taken included the human side of business on its syllabus. That lack of knowledge cost me my job. I was bound and determined not to let it happen again.
After going through outplacement and discovering a great deal about the real world, job hunting, career planning, and myself, I persuaded my outplacement counselor to teach me the business; and then "hung out a shingle" for myself as Benton Management Resources. I began sharing with other people who had lost their jobs the insights that I'd gained after losing mine. I also started interviewing successful businesspeople nearly two thousand of them over a ten-year period. I looked for patterns in their experiences that would help me teach other success-seekers how to think, act, and relate.
By using what I learned in my own life, I gained a reputation in the world of business. My work expanded to include lectures and training seminars as well as private consultations with executives, politicians, and media personalities who wanted to enhance their personal presence (or as they put it in Europe, have more "charisma"). I also was able to extend my "research" into the higher echelons. I sought out the best the men and women who had climbed up the slippery ladder of success in their field and now sat on the top rung.
I interviewed and studied more than a hundred chiefs chief executive officers (CEOs), chief operations officers (COOs), and the big chiefs (company presidents). As you will see from the quotes that appear throughout this book and the list of acknowledgments, I spoke with leaders in the media, professional sports, government, nonprofit organizations, manufacturing, cable TV, advertising, finance, and other fields. I observed these top people in formal business situations: at board meetings, in the midst of international negotiations, before and after speeches, during media interviews and in executive offices. I also spent time with them in informal settings: on boats, in private jets, on golf courses, at sporting events, and at office Christmas parties. In some instances, I even met and spoke with their secretaries, children, spouses, ex-spouses, and other "right-hand people" to gain their perspective of Mr./Ms. Big.
I listened, watched, remembered, and learned that top people are not magical, blessed or dramatically different from you or me. They simply have skills and outlooks that the rest of us may not have but can get. We all have the capacity to make it to the top of our fields and stay there. What we often lack are the tools and techniques to convert our potential into productivity, effectiveness, and success. Over the years, I have taught thousands of people what those tools and techniques are and how to use them. I have written this book to teach those same things to you.