The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.
Or so goes the Japanese saying...
While the truth of this phrase varies from one organization to another, all companies have at least a few executives that can avoid the hammer, according to author Perry Buffett in "Using Influence to Get Things Done" from the latest issue of strategy+business. And the influence of these executives far exceeds their job titles--when they address potentially controversial subjects, their colleagues and bosses pay attention.
"These executives get things done, whereas others, often with more formal authority and power, command, cajole, and threaten to no avail."
Beyond simply getting things done, Buffett asserts that employees of such executives reap the benefits, too.
"Big problems are solved, executive decision making is enhanced, and the organization is flattened somewhat, making it more flexible and less rigidly tied to a top-down, command-and-control environment."
OK, so the important piece. Not everyone is or is capable of being such a proactive, influential executive, but others (even non-executives) can still strive for innovative excellence in working with the C-suite. s+b provides five factors for using influence (including what-not-to-do warnings), one of which is highlighted below.
"Leave your personal agenda at the door."
Fail to follow this significant piece of advice at this risk of your career:
"Although the ability of executives to influence others often enhances their careers, self-aggrandizement isn't their primary motivation. Some executives forget this fundamental truth. They become Machiavellian, playing politics in order to build their power base, or in the flush of success, they become drunk with power. They forget that personal success is a by-product of serving their companies well. With few exceptions, these executives lose credibility with their peers. Their motives are questioned and they eventually cannot muster the support on which their influential competence depends."