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Ten Tips for New Executives

In my old age, I would like to believe that some of the things I have learned might help those who are now plowing the fields I once worked. So here are 10 suggestions I wish someone had given me when I was 40 and beginning my run as an executive. I made the mistake of violating many of them but not all.

1. The less you confide in others in the organization, the better it will go for you. What you intend as harmless chatter can do serious harm. Keep your speculations and worries to yourself.

2. Be sure to manage down. Spend time with the lower-level employees in your company and try to be decent to all of them. A polite greeting to the elevator operator, a thanks to the mail delivery person and a kind word to the assistants will be appreciated. The making of reputations begins at the ground level. Similarly, keep the ugly aspects of your day to yourself. Do not shout.

3. Leadership is a full-time job and the duty clock is never off. Every little sign is being read and your impatience, disappointment or insecurity will be magnified by those who pass along their readings of you. There is no time for casual and unplanned candor, and messages must be sent only when carefully thought out. Be especially careful about what you put in writing, especially emails-they never disappear.

4. Keep listening to and for advice. Have lunch at least once a week in the office cafeteria, or make a point of dallying near the coffee station, and listen to what others are talking about. If someone wants to speak to you, there is every reason to listen. If criticism is offered, take time to respond with care even if you don't agree with it.

5. The wisecrack you believe is witty often is not. Your sense of humor is easily misread as patronizing and clumsy. If you still think that telling a joke or relating a humorous story is somehow important to making a point, run it past your spouse or a trusted friend first. Humor can be risky. Never joke about serious matters.

6. The important thing is to be sure that the important thing remains the important thing. Explain your strategy frequently and then rephrase it and repeat it.

7. Never complain; never explain. No one listens. Take the blame if something goes wrong. Do not blame mistakes on prior administrations, the weather, bad luck or your competitors. But don't appear defensive. Look forward-unless your resignation has been requested.

8. Trust your professional advisers and accept their expertise. Try not to second-guess the market. There is no such thing as perfect data about anything. Make decisions and move on.

9. Be careful about the use of the word 'average'-one can drown in a river the average depth of which is six inches. Taking comfort in what's 'average' offers a false sense of security. Assume that the worst might happen, because often it will.

10. It's a clich谷, but true: Never do or say anything that you would be unhappy to see written about on a newspaper front page. In dealing with the media, avoid answering hypothetical questions, remember that the microphone is never really off, and never agree to speak 'off the record.' The only worthwhile public response to a crisis is honesty.

One fascinating aspect of life for an executive in the public eye is that there are so few ways to learn the art of a graceful style. There is no privacy either. But there are rewards and one is generally well paid for the limitations imposed. The media are always watching, and any small misstep in your personal life can be distorted. Those who assume a public leadership role can expect harsh treatment when things go wrong. If things go well, the media's silence should be gratefully accepted.

If all the suggestions above were distilled into one essential message I'd offer to a person newly arrived in public life, it would be this: Tell the truth, at work and in public. But also remember: One does not have to answer every question, either from a colleague or a reporter. The press will accept a demurrer, but a lie almost always is soon uncovered, and the damage to the reputation of the person who lies-and often to the organization he represents-is severe.

If you cannot answer or choose not to, say so and move on. It may seem simple and easy to do, but notice how few manage it.


1. 在公司里跟别人吐露的心事越少,对你越好。你以为是无伤大雅的闲聊,其实有可能会造成严重伤害。把你的猜测和担忧都埋在心里吧。

2. 务必管理好和下属的关系。花时间和公司里的较低层员工在一起,尽量对他们友好。对电梯操作员礼貌问候,对邮递员表示感谢,对助理说句友善的话,这些都会得到赞赏。打造名誉要从基层做起。同样的,碰到不爽的事情,要自己消化情绪,不要在别人面前发泄。<-->纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com<-->

3. 做领导是一份全职工作,职责的时钟永不停止。每个微小的迹象都会被解读,你的不耐烦、失望或不安全感都会被那些解读你的人放大。不应做出随意、毫无准备的坦白,信息必须经过深思熟虑才能发出。要特别小心书面的东西,尤其是电子邮件──它们永远都不会消失。

4. 保持聆听并索取建议。每周至少在公司餐厅吃一次午饭,或者时不时在咖啡机旁逗留,听听其他人都在聊些什么。如果有人想跟你说话,那就没有理由不听。如果有人批评,即使你不赞同也要花时间仔细回应。

5. 你觉得很风趣的俏皮话通常并不风趣。你的幽默感很容易被解读为自傲和笨拙。如果你仍然以为讲笑话或引用某个幽默故事对陈述观点很重要,那么请先跟你的配偶或信任的朋友演练一遍。幽默是有风险的。千万不要拿严肃的事情开玩笑。

6. 很重要的一点是,保证重要事务的重要性。应该经常解释你的战略,可以换个措辞,但要反复强调。

7. 绝不要抱怨和解释,没有人会听。出了差错就承担责任。不要把错误怪到前几届管理层、天气、运气不好或竞争对手身上。但也不要露出防御姿态。向前看──除非上级要求你辞职。

8. 信任你的专业顾问,接受他们的专业意见。不要对市场做过多猜测。没有所谓的完美数据。做出决策,往前走。

9. 谨慎使用“平均”这个词──平均深度为6英寸河也可能淹死人。欣然接受“平均”,只会获得虚假的安全感。假设最糟糕的情况会发生,因为通常就是如此。

10. 最后这条是陈词滥调,但却是至理真言:绝不要做或说你不希望在报纸头条看到的事情。和媒体打交道时,不要回答假设性的问题,谨记麦克风永远不会真正关闭,绝不要同意“私下”谈。对一场危机唯一值得做的公开回应是诚实。






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