#1 Lead with Respect

“Praise publicly, criticize privately.” You will need, at some point, to get cooperation and work out of someone who does not report to you, whose boss does not take an interest in your work, whose department does not give a rat’s butt about your department. If you cannot get people who do not report to you to work with you, you will be dead in the water.


#2 You are the average of the people you spend your time with

Someone once said, ‘You are the average of the 6 people you spend the most time with.’ Professionally, I took this to heart and made a point of networking with not only people who are generally successful, but also people who exhibit the kind of work habits I know I need to emulate.”


#3 Confidence in your abilities and knowledge

“When you are the expert, talk like you are the expert. Don’t be overly deferential or modify your statements with things like “I think” or “Maybe…” when you are talking to people who are in peers or are ranked higher in the organization.

This advice was from my boss in my first corporate job after years in publishing, to encourage me to be more assertive. I’m a woman, I was younger than everyone else on the team, and I was often in a position of having to tell our IT team — all older than me and 95% male — how I wanted things on our website. They wouldn’t always follow my directions exactly or in a timely fashion; instead they would follow their own opinions and regard my instructions as advice. When I started sounding more direct and assertive, they had more respect for my experience and my projects were done to my specifications and timeline.”


#4 Don’t present problems without solutions

“When you present your boss with a problem, also come in with as much knowledge as possible and potential solutions. If I’m talking to a superior about a case, I need to have read the entire file – even stuff that may not seem completely germane to my question – so that I can answer his questions and have an informed discussion about the issues of the case. (Sometimes doing this will resolve what you saw as a potential problem anyway.) If I do have a problem, I explain the problem and the potential solutions, i.e., I can do A, B, or C with this. Doing this saves your boss time and helps you get a better result, because often they were thinking about/working on something else or don’t know/remember the specifics of your project. I’ve used this strategy in multiple workplaces and found that it helps both me and my bosses.”