Introduction: It's All a Game. Know the Players.
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Welcome to the Pink Pill for Business. You are about to embark on a course that will teach you how to navigate the workplace as polished, professional, feminine woman. You will learn how to wield your smarts, creativity, savviness and style to catapult into the position you desire, get more customers for your own business, and successfully navigate the potential landmines that come along with working in the global marketplace.
Take your time to explore and internalize each unit, do the exercises, and reflect on how to tailor the advice and methods to your personality.
Before you start, however, we need to make something crystal clear. The workplace is a game that you must play to win. If you think for a moment that all it takes to succeed in your industry is skill and hard work, you're sadly mistaken. In truth, the further you climb up the corporate ladder, the less important your actual skills matter to your success. Your ability to cultivate relationships, fit into the corporate culture, develop alliances and inspire others to promote you through advocacy is what leads to the promotion to elevated positions.
If business is a game, then think of it as a game of chess. Chess has a singular objective which uses certain characters as defense, or sacrifice to launch an offensive. For that reason, it's important to identify the characters and their function so that you can use this aspect to play the game to your benefit.
Within this course, you will often see how I identify certain characters as chess pieces and illustrate how they function. When you enter the real-life chess game, you'll be able to identify which piece is associated with certain character traits. Soon, you'll be able to quickly identify who is the King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook, and Pawn in your organization, and learn how to successfully influence each to your advantage.
The King represents the highest level of the hierarchical structure of power. Think pyramid. Someone is above, and someone is below. They express power overtly. This style is typical to men, but a remarkable amount of women also have this career character trait.
Their communication is direct and to the point; no-nonsense. They see a task, and see it as "prey" to overtake and conquer. Their work style is linear, and they value and respect the power structure of the head to the tail. The boss is in charge, and he or she is to be respected and obeyed without question. You don't come to them for comfort and support. They aren't the warm, fuzzy types. Kings are less concerned with the process, and instead focus on the result. Results are all that matter. They don't value or really understand multi-tasking. To the King, to not be direct looks like you are unfocused and scattered. When you present to the King, you use direct, precise language without a lot of equivocation. Roundabout language only serves to annoy the King, and they will view such communication styles with suspicion.
In application: Identify the "Kings" in your organization. Adapt your communication style to how they best communicate and receive data. Be straight to the point, and don't waste their time with a lot of small talk. Play up the results of a project that you have accomplished, and not the process in which you undertook to achieve it. Never make excuses. If you receive criticism of your work, acknowledge it and talk about how you will make specific changes to improve. To the King, weakness and vulnerability is a liability. Keep your game face with the King for the objective of winning. And. as with chess, if the King is your boss, you must protect him or her.
How to influence The King: Don't look for a King-type to nurture you to the next rung on the ladder. Instead, appeal to her ego. "You're such an amazing XYZ, I would love to have 15-20 minutes of your time (it's good to be specific and not leave the time open-ended) to talk about how I can make sure I'm on the right track for the next step." To get the King to also serve as your "Knight," or advocate you have to first help him see how do so will benefit them.
The Queen represents a more communal style of work and management. She is more of a nurturer, and work is just as much about the process as the result. These qualities are usually associated with women. In prehistoric times, the Queen and her court were the Gatherers. They simultaneously looked for fruit, greens, and nuts while caring for the young as well as women and children around her. She is a multitasker, and she depends on the solid relationships with others, and expects those around her to also have these values. Under the Queen's reign, power is equivocal, and strutting around like the king of the jungle just doesn't fly.
If the communication style of a King is from A to B, the style of a Queen is more of a zigzag. The Queen will ask about your home life and your kids, and try to form deep bonds of friendship. Instead of dictating orders, the Queen might say, "How can we work together to get sales up this month?" (by we, I mean, you.)
Recently I went into a medical clinic for a cosmetic procedure. While I was getting my treatment, the two nurses started talking amongst one another. The conversation went like this:
Nurse One: "I' feel like maybe I want to start doing blah blah blah next time during blah blah blah instead of after?"
Nurse Two: "Are you thinking that's a better way? What if you tried it like this...
Nurse One: "Should I? Maybe I'll try that after I do thing like blah blah blah."
I smiled to myself because now that I know how women give advise without being offensive or openly challenging them. These are queens.
In contrast, if this conversation was with two Kings, the conversation would probably go like this:
Nurse One: "I'm going to tweak the way I did x next time."
Nurse Two: "I wouldn't that could be a disaster. You should try it the regular way again."
Nurse Two: "Okay. I'll do it the way I want to but if I'll try it the regular way if it doesn't work."
The dark side of the Queen style is how she retaliates when you cross her. More on this in the Relational Aggression section of this course.
The application: Working with The Queen requires you to appreciate your role and responsibilities, as well as fostering a good relationship with her and your colleagues. The goal is just as much about the process and the completion. You curry favor with the Queen when navigating on the plane on which she is most comfortable.
The Bishop serves as your mentor. He or she can be either within the organization or not, but knows the ins and outs of the industry you work in. The mentor, Bishop, serves to give you sage advice on ways to navigate corporate politics, and lends an ear when conflicts arise. The benefit of the Bishop can not be understated. Without any need to compete or manipulate, he or she can offer unbiased critique on your career road map, how to navigate away from landmines, negotiate pay, and connect you with contacts.
Application: In essence, the role of the Bishop is a form of charity and good will to you.The motivation is based on the Bishop's desire to "give back" and share hard-won wisdom. But be aware--your mentor (Bishop) doesn't owe you anything, and you are not entitled to tap her time and expertise without reciprocating your appreciation in some way. People don't take kindly to those who just take, take, take. So make sure you consistently show appreciation and regard for their priceless gems. Thank them every time they take time to counsel with you. Never underestimate the power of a hand-written Thank-You note.
Just like days long ago, your Knight is your protector and serves to further your cause. The Knight is distinctly different from your Bishop (mentor) in that the Knight has the actual POWER to put you forward to the right people. Your Knight could (and should) be your boss, but you can also identify and establish rapport with upper management when the opportunity arises.
The key to securing your Knight is frequent visibility. Once you identify your potential advocate, learn all you can about them--their history with the company, their background, their hobbies and family life--in order to find common ground and compatibility. Try to find opportunities to be in their line of sight. Appeal to their ego, and communicate your desire to move up along with some subtle hints about why you'd be a good bet. Be sure that the relationship is not one sided. Be patient, and nurture the relationship and reciprocate favors.
These are the troublemakers, the schemers, the traitors, the gossips. Every organization has at least one. Be careful of the Rook. He or she (more than likely a she) will often come on strong and be overly friendly, wanting to know everything about your life. Beware. She wants to know all about you so that she can identify any weakness as well as nuggets of gossip to gather power to herself, or serve it to the queen bee. If the Rook is a gossip, you'll find out soon. She'll feed you information to make you feel like an insider, and will try to coax you into trusting her.
You can play this one of two ways. You can shut her down immediately when she gossips by saying something like, "Does Jane know you're telling other people about her relationship problems?" or "Hmmm....I wonder if Jane feels about me knowing this about her." That usually shuts down the conversation.
Or, a more cunning and crafty approach would be to listen and acquire tidbits that may be helpful to you in the future. If you go this route, the Rook will expect for you to reciprocate with personal information. Feed her bits and pieces that you don't mind getting out, or even give false information and see if it gets out. You'll soon know for sure who and what you are dealing with.
The Pawn is your coworker or people in lower-status, support positions. Don't neglect cultivating relationships with them, because they will have useful information about corporate culture, other employees and bosses, and who and what to look out for in the organization.
Application: Take time to get to know the people you work with. Express an interest and build a good rapport. You never know when or if the people around you will be promoted and serve as your Knight in the future. Give sincere compliments and encouragement, and talk them up to your boss. Your boss will take note of the team-player behavior, which ultimately is a good reflection on you.
Be mindful that Pawns will often change sides if it is politically expedient to do so. They have to look out for themselves, just as you do. Focus on being friendly, but not necessarily friends.
Know Your LOL (Lay of the Land)
Now that you have an overview of this classification system, try it out in your own situation. If you are new to the organization, this is your best opportunity to observe the LOL. Be friendly, but listen more than you speak. Don't just focus on the words, focus on their baseline body language and their adaptive habits (e.g. twirling their hair, tapping feet, fondling glasses or jewelry, etc) and make note of when those behaviors are manifesting. Often we do these things when we are anxious, bored, or feeling insecure.
At meetings or events, watch who seems to command the room and who everyone is gathering around. That is definitely a person to get to know. Make note when you get wind of any conflict happening to others and the players and context it is happening.
Don't forget appearance! This is a good time to observe the generally-accepted dress code for the organization. What people wear (and don't wear)--the quality, fit, and overall effort--speaks volumes. Make note of how they decorate and keep up their work space, and how much or little about their personal lives are revealed through their artifacts. When you can, check out the model or car and how neatly it is kept up. This reveals a lot about the person's value system, organization skills, and comfort with chaos.
Try to learn the political and social affiliations of others, their hobbies and home life.
The more you know your LOL, the more power you will have to influence others.
Print out the LOL worksheet below to help you start your personal classification based on your bosses and associates.