Getting Ahead Without Kissing Up

People often complain when others get ahead that they’ve done so by “kissing up” to the boss.  These people frequently say “I’d rather not get that job if it means pretending to be someone that I’m not.” They see trying to get closer to the boss as too much self promotion.


What they fail to realize is they can still be themselves and of great value to their boss without compromising the integrity of who they are. 


Here’s our “Take Five” on getting ahead without kissing up:


  1. “Go-to” Person – Be the person your boss can count on in a pinch.  If an important project comes up and they need your help, they know you’ll figure out a way to get it done with a good attitude.   Many people complain about getting extra work, seeing it as a burden rather than an opportunity. They view others’ willingness to take on additional assignments as “kissing up”, but it’s not the case at all.  Being a reliable resource isn’t playing politics, it’s just smart business. 
  2. Keep It Neutral – Don’t get too emotional/negative about situations that arise. Contaminating the environment with negativity is counterproductive.  If you’re upset about something, be honest with your boss but do it in a professional way.  Who would you rather listen to, someone who rants and raves or someone who presents the situation in a compelling, yet even-keeled manner?
  3. Good Communications – By maintaining frequent communication, you’ll have your boss’s ear.  This might take the form of new information about a competitor or new technology that can help your company.  Letting your boss know you’re thinking about the business is not “kissing up” if you’re genuinely interested.  Don’t do it just to score points.  On the flip side, you may be voicing concerns your co-workers have about company policies, opportunities, etc.  Giving your boss greater insight into what’s going on will enable him/her to be proactive.  This is not done to gain favor with the boss, it is to nip a problem in the bud.
  4. Be Yourself – Many people make the mistake of acting one way towards their boss and another way towards their peers.  We’ve all seen people who have an ingratiating manner towards their boss and then are total jerks to everyone else.  Treat everyone with the same respect that you would want in return.  
  5. Bond – It’s important to bond with your boss.  This doesn’t mean you have to start playing golf or take on a new activity JUST to bond with them.  Look for other ways to connect that are genuine.  This could be asking about their kids, dogs, hobbies.  If you happen to come across (don’t go looking for one) an article of interest to them (e.g., classic cars, books, etc.), share it with them. 


The way we see it, there’s plenty of opportunity to stay true to yourself and create a good relationship with your boss.   This does not have to come at the expense of your co-workers or your integrity.  Be genuine in your approach and everyone will see it for what it truly is.



Copyright 2008 Whelan Stone. All rights reserved


Whelan Stone


About whelanstone

I'm originally from New York - lost my accent when I moved down to Florida - and made San Francisco my home in 1985. I've been recruiting & coaching for 12 years, with the best partner (Fred) you could ask for, and love what I do. When I'm not busy working I write screenplays (haven't sold one yet) and travel - Morocco this past summer was fantastic. Fred and I started this blog because we wanted to share what we've learned along the way. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as we do writing it.
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