Social Enterprise

Successful leaders play well with others

Ever asked yourself if there's anything else you can do to get a promotion? Leadership coach John M McKee shares some insights and one of his PowerTools to help you move forward in your career. His advice may surprise you.

Have you noticed that a lot people get promoted despite their lack of technical skills? This stuff happens all the time. In virtually every organization.  Right across the world.

Is it simply due to politics?  Or is there something else at play?

It's something else.

After 30 years in various sectors, I've seen clearly that promotional paths have a lot to do with those individuals taking the time to develop technical insight and skills in disciplines beyond what the job calls for.  Early on, for whatever reason, these individuals realized that:

  1. All businesses are "people" businesses; regardless of what they make/sell/produce.
  2. Those who "get it" (whatever that means in the particular organization) get promoted faster.
  3. Certain people are more respected / admired / liked than the rest - even if they're kind of "failures."
  4. It’s better to be happy than cranky.

So they did what made sense: In the same way that they would get out the new product guide or spec sheets to learn how to manage / create a new service or program, they set about studying how to become more successful in their dealings with people in the organization.

And that doesn't mean just sucking-up to the boss.  The really successful careerists figured out that they need to have better (i.e., better functioning) relationships with people at all levels -- above, below, beside them.

I believe that anybody can change their stripes, grow and flourish -- even in a difficult environment. I'm just as certain that the person who states, "I am who I am," and resists taking the steps to grow and evolve beyond where they are today - is doomed. They'll be cranky, earn less money, and probably have sleep problems.

It's all about: You, Version 2.0 - Are you inclined to think of yourself as a work in progress, always evolving to being able compete in a competitive environment? If so, a great place to start is with a review of Transactional Analysis (TA).

Developed by the Canadian psychologist Eric Berne, a guy who really got the concept of intuition, TA is a concept that works effectively. It's applicable in business, personal, and family situations, even for those of us considered to be nerds. Here is a PowerTool I give to clients; it will provide you more insight.

Here's to your future,


Leadership Coach


John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...


I clicked on the link and it was broken. I'd really like to read the PDF.


Can you fix the link???


I fully agree with this article. Its not all about doing your daily jobs but also doing it efficiently and communicate effectively with co-workers and managers at all times.


you cant say that to be a good leader takes this or that, because either argument (and any one of 1000 variations) is beginning with an assumption that there is a right way & a wrong way... now, there may be methods of leadership which have pros & cons, but ultimately the best leader is the one who can successfully identify which methodology to use in the situation at hand, which is largely going to depend on the existing company culture (ie - the starting point), and considering that this will have a momentum of its own, the rate at which you try to change it should allow for that momentum so that you dont take it off the rails & into a train-wreck... and that can be caused by what might otherwise seem like positive leadership... so in my view, if you read any article that tries to sell you on an exact method being the best, in all likelihood, it would be wise to be wary of what they are trying to sell you, because it may sound like common sense on the surface, but you dont have to scratch very hard to see how shallow that wisdom is... look for the advice which gives a simple explanation, of a deep complex and elegant understanding of the fundamental mechanics of the situation & how to work with it... and if you use that measuring stick, you will find that fewer articles meet the bench mark


...on that subject (what I wrote above)... I am just curious what benchmarks you apply to the articles you choose to publish... many of them are pretty good, especially the non-opinion ones which just talk about HOW TO do something... but i have noticed on this website & many others, that there are a lot of business articles which I am rather underwhelmed by... it just sounds like people touting the same old same old blah blah which wasnt even their idea in the first place, they read it in a marketing book somewhere the unfortunate thing about business is that very little of its economic theories based on anything which would pass the muster of any REAL science... most of it is absolute donkeys testicles & it would take a moron not to notice it... so, would it be fair to say that from a journalistic point of view, it would actually be more helpful both to techrepublic as a business, as well as to its readership, if the articles of a business nature were treated as such, and exposed to a bit more scrutiny before publication? ...alternatively, to publish a conversation instead of an article, where people can contribute to the development of a unified theory based on combined knowledge & a forum of peer review... because it seems to me that people are reading these articles, so they are interested, but when you have one such as this that divides opinion, it seems like there are a lot of people with opinions on the subject, but fortunately some of them have evidence &/or logic to back up their case... and by summarizing the conversation at the end of the week, you would most likely come up with something a hell of a lot more beneficial than the regurgitated nonsense which gets spouted on occasion... not wanting to be too critical & make the author feel bad, but i have to be honest, i dont feel that there is a great deal of depth or wisdom to much of what has been written in a lot of cases, not just this one (particularly as i said where it relates to business & economics theories)


So I'm reading through this and I understand that in order to be successful in your career you have to be well liked. That's in any field not just IT. But when I'm reading through this article it seems as if the author is saying don't bother with working hard and paying close attention to detail when you work because it's all a popularity contest. To me I use tools like hard work and taking on extra roles in the company to show my leadership capabilities. Granted I am well liked but I don't sit around the water cooler everyday campaigning for supervisors job. The way I look at it is that it takes a balance of hard work, dedication, and yes of course a good attitude. A good attitude is very important because with out one no one will want to work with you. Sometimes in order to get certain things done to prove your value you need the help of others, they wont help if they don't feel you have the right attitude.

Won't Get Fooled Again
Won't Get Fooled Again

What a weak basis for a 'new' approach! Get out of the almost wholly discredited past, everyone. It's not about 'contracting' any more. It's about democratisation; winning the 'votes' of your customers, your co-workers, your friends - and your family. Try it now, today. It works.

premiertechnologist 1 Like

Those fun guys at the University of Toronto did a definitive study on Executive Ability: You are so wrong. If you want to be successful (define success please), you need to be an effective liar. Nothing else counts. Furthermore, you must have learned to be a convincing liar by the time you are age 5. Now THAT is the TRUE key to Executive Ability.

deirdre.donovan 1 Like

Hi, John: This article, and the TA PowerTool, are marvelous. I have a request. I want to post your article and the source statement at the bottom of the PowerTool has what appears to be a grammatical error. "The material may be been developed using several sources." Would you please fix it and send it out again? Thanks very much.

shandleman 2 Like

"All businesses are ???people??? businesses; regardless of what they make/sell/produce." Amen. This point can't be overstated. Excellent article, John.

sissy sue
sissy sue 3 Like

You are correct: It's all about attitude. I learned this the hard way when I was in my 30s. I was working for a corporation in which I was highly motivated to make a contribution. I worked too hard, and it made me very cranky. I decided I needed to do what was necessary to improve my relations with others in the organization, so I worked LESS hard and was more pleasant to be around. That contributed to more favorable reviews and less interpersonal conflicts on the job. Natural-born leaders work well with others at all levels of the corporate structure. They motivate others to do their best and treat subordinates as well as they treat superiors and their peers. And, yes, they are good politicians because they don't go out their way to ruffle feathers. Not all organizations reward their natural leaders; some organizations promote ONLY those who play politics and who brown-nose important people while treading on subordinates and those who are deemed unimportant. Those are the organizations that people want to avoid. If you like people, you have a better chance to advance to managerial level. Being a manager, however, is not for everyone, and it's a shame that so many people consider this the pinnacle of success when not all of us are cut out for it or desire it. If you are not a people person, be happy being the best professional you can be. Just remember that your attitude will not only make you a happier person, but a more successful person as well.


thank you SS .. very insightful. It is always great to read about real experiences from readers. I am of the same opinion as you & John.. it *is* the attitude .. and how you are feeling on the inside.. is EXACTLY how you will be perceived by others on the outside. Great positive thoughts & remarks! keep up the great work./ -Tom

matt.birchall 1 Like

Great post! I'm an old dog but I still take time out to learn new tricks. I'm now the wrong side of 50 but have recently done an MBA and am just making a job move. I still find new things to learn and am trying to regard my career, and the way I live, as a thing that can be continually improved. Think of it as Kaizen for the career.

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