Got allies? If not, get some

I'm often asked for ideas which my clients can use to move up the ladder more quickly. This is one I see used more often by men than women -- but neither gender uses it enough.

If you don't have one or more colleagues with whom you can be totally honest, and who will be brutally honest with you, then you're missing one of the best ways to ensure you're firing on all cylinders.

Think about it. Having another person in the organization who is trustworthy allows you to:

1. Compare notes - Are you hearing things the same way as others are? Many managers get derailed because they misinterpret what they hear. 2. Read the tea leaves together - Leaders make and write many pronouncements. But often, what they say isn't always the best way to behave if you want to succeed. 3. Blow off steam - I can't overstate the importance of this. If you hold everything in, and don't vent occasionally it's not as much a statement about your fantastic inner strength as it's a precursor of high blood pressure, or worse. 4. Get assistance with your programs - Even if your ally isn't in the same department or division, he or she may be able to help you get your programs or plans into action. 5. Celebrate each other's wins - Of course you have friends and family to pat you on the back when a big bonus comes in, or a promotion occurs. But those in the same company know a lot more about what it may have taken to get it. A true confidante will be as glad for you as you of her. 6. Have a lobbyist - People who argue on behalf of another are seen to have less of a vested interest. 7. Go out for a drink after a really tough meeting/day/week - I don't encourage the use of booze or any other vices to get through difficult times. But once in a while, going out and decompressing with people who just shared a battle is really worthwhile. 8. Get a pat you on the back - Guess what? Some bosses aren't very good at recognition of their subordinates. Having an "attaboy" from your ally is a real boost and encourages more of the same behavior. 9. Talk about your personal life with someone in a similar situation - Of course, you should talk with your partner, best pal, husband, wife, mom, or dad. But a business buddy knows what you're going through all day long and may have more empathy. This is a particularly big issue for guys. Women are better than guys when it comes to sharing this type of information. 10. Congratulate someone whom you care about who is getting ahead - You know how hard it is - make sure you give them a big nod. Most people neglect to congratulate others for their successes. They'll appreciate it and remember you when your time comes.

If you're reading this and thinking that you don't need anyone else to "win" at life, I wish you a hearty offer of Good Luck. Later, when you finally realize that you could use the perspective of someone else, (and you will) feel free to call me.


Leadership Coach

By John McKee

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...