Good leaders are supposed to be compassionate, modest, and always cordial. But, says Stanford University Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, these qualities help you climb. They won’t help you reach the top.
In a fascinating essay, published in his book What Were They Thinking, Pfeffer describes the skyrocketing career of one Keith Ferrazzi. Ferazzi didn’t just do the work and wait to be recognized. He was a standout even as a junior consultant, where he immediately began developing client relationships.
Perhaps his most mind-boggling move came very early in his career. As a recent MBA, juggling offers from McKinsey and DeLoitte, Ferrazi told DeLoitte he wanted one unique perk: dinner with the president three times a year. They said yes.
Pfeffer’s point is, “Don’t be afraid of standing out and recognize the trade-offs.” Everyone talks about being a good team player, but actually you’re competing with your teammates to get promotions, raises and visibility.
Pfeffer ends the chapter with a great quote from Steve Spurrier, the football coach who left U of Florida to coach in the NFL: “Call me arrogant, cocky, crybaby, whiner or whatever names you like…At least they’re not calling us losers anymore. If people like you too much, it’s probably because they’re beating you.”