Feb 23, 2019

"Moral Mazes" 3

Previous: 1, 2

On the formula for success, from p. 62 of my copy of Moral Mazes:

Surely, one might argue, there must be more to success in the corporation other than appearances, personality, team play, style, chameleonic adaptability, and fortunate connections. What about the bottom line – profits, performance? ...

Unquestionably, "hitting your numbers" – that is, meeting the profit commitments already discussed – or achieving expected levels of performance in other areas is important, but only within the social context I have described... there are several rules that apply here. First, no one in a line position – that is, with responsibility for profit and loss – who regularly "misses his numbers" will survive, let alone rise. Second, a person who always hits his numbers but lacks some or all of the required social skills will not rise. Third, a person who sometimes misses his numbers but who has all the desirable social traits will rise.

On being "promotable", from p. 64-5:

The real task for the ambitious manager then becomes how to shape and keep shaping others' perceptions of oneself – that is, how to influence favorably or alter if necessary the cognitive maps of others in the central political networks of the organization – so that one becomes seen as "promotable."

The promotable person is the manager who possesses a desirable combination of the important managerial skills already described... Managers know that patrons and powerful allies protect those already selected as rising starts from the negative judgments of others; and only the foolhardy point out even egregious errors of those in power or those destined for it.


Managers can be thought to be nonpromotable for many reasons – a manager "doesn't fit in," "he doesn't communicate well," he is "too consumed with detail," he is "not flexible enough," he is "not a self-starter."

Again, apologies for the gendered language.