You need allies - now more than ever

Ever wish you had better insight into what's going on at your organization? Keeping up with developments is smart, especially in this economy.

This economy is tough. More and more it looks like we are about to repeat what happened to Japan in the 1990s. That decade, often referred to as Japan's "lost decade," involved a lot of inertia. The country stalled, and it never really recovered to earlier times and growth. Likewise, for those in the job sector, careers that once looked promising also stalled. Despite dramatic improvements in profit, many large organizations are behaving like they anticipate a tough climate ahead. Previous levels of employees are not returning. Large organizations like General Motors, which announced huge profits, remain committed to using temp employees or demanding more productivity from existing staff. Small businesses are unable to get the capital they need to hire. Pundits are calling for little growth in the economy -- translation: continual high levels of unemployment. If you have a job, now -- more than ever -- you need to keep at the top of your game. I'm not only talking about your actual job performance, I'm also talking about being one step ahead of whatever is going on around you. One approach I see used by smart careerists is the use of allies. In any initiative, allies can make you stronger, more likely to succeed. Here are a few ways you can use those people to keep on top of the organization's actions and, perhaps, plans:

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 -- 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.

4. Get assistance with your programs -- Even if your ally isn’t in the same department or division, (s)he may be able to help you get your programs or plans into action.

5. Celebrate each others' 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.

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 always encourage the use of booze (or other substances). But once in a while, going out and decompressing with people who just shared a battle is really worthwhile.

8. Get/give a pat on the back -- Guess what? Some bosses aren’t very good at recognizing their subordinates. Having an “attaboy” from your ally is a real boost, encouraging 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 you care about who's getting ahead ---You know how hard it is, so make sure you give them a big nod. Most people neglect to congratulate.

I realize that for many of you, going it alone may seem easier or even stronger. But it rarely works as well.

Looking forward,


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...