By Mike Johnson
When you’re the company’s best rainmaker, the bosses happily hold your umbrella.
I found this discovery fascinating.
I was just being myself.
Maintaining the existing status-quo always bored me. So my work strategy was to first excel at the expected performance measurements, build credibility and then slowly start peppering superiors with new ideas.
Now I got to play with creative new ways of getting better results.
“Play” made the job energizing and fun.
It also subtly got the bosses dancing to my tune rather than me dancing to theirs.
Going on offense put me in charge. As long as my ideas kept working, the bosses said yes to every request. While my peers were being micro-managed for the smallest duties, I’d been cut loose to set any agenda or priority. Once my idea worked, my peers were ordered to follow my lead too.
This worked amazingly well with the marketing department. Their role in every other 7-Eleven district was to select the sale items, design the displays & signage and then follow-up to make sure operations implemented the programs as planned.
But in my district, I put them to constant work by relentlessly tossing them ideas that required research. I wasn’t abusing them, but it sure got me out from under their thumb.
One fun example involved drinking straws. We were at a big division meeting. The marketing department head was banging on another district manager for not properly implementing the fountain drink sales plans in his stores.
I inwardly chuckled because I was prepared to make this stop.
My district had just won the beverage sales incentive contest so my credibility was high.
“Excuse me, Sid?" I interrupted. "I stopped at McDonald’s this morning on the way in. I noticed their straws are wider than ours. What do they know that we don’t? Do you think people consume more soda with a wider straw?”
All eyes turned toward Sid.
The look on his face was priceless. The concept of a wider straw was simple and brilliant, yet by Sid’s look, it was clear he’d never considered it.
He stammered. He stuttered. His eyes darted back and forth.
“That’s an interesting question. I’ll get back to you on that.”
The browbeaten district manager slid me a grin.
When you’re an employee, there are a hundred painful and pleasurable subplots.
But when your results are so impressive you get to call the shots, your job sure doesn’t suck.
How Saying No Led to Yes
My Day as President of the United States
Return on Investment
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