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Brown-nosing done right

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Here’s reassuring news to anyone who loathes a sycophant: According to new research out of Northwestern University and the University of Michigan, overt ingratiation can backfire.

The research revealed that there is a wrong way and a right way to suck up. In short: If someone’s behavior comes across as blatantly ingratiating, then others will see that person as self-interested and untrustworthy.

So what does work? Tricks for being a subtle and effective sycophant:
  • Make it uncomfortable. Preface compliments with a phrase like “I don’t want to embarrass you, but your presentation was really top-notch.”
  • Frame it as a question, which is just as flattering as a compliment. Example: “How were you able to close that deal so successfully?”
  • Disagree before you agree. Example: “At first, I didn’t see your point, but it makes total sense now.”
  • Talk her up to others. Odds are, the praise will work its way back to her.
  • Align with her social values. Example: “I’m the same way. I believe we should ...”

Scoring big points in this economy

How are companies feeling about the future? A recent McKinsey survey reports executives are feeling positive about their companies’ ability to rebound: 74% of respondents say they expect companies’ profits to rise over the next 12 months.

The companies that expect profits to decline this year say they will remedy the situation by doing the following:

  • 54% will seek an increase in productivity
  • 29% will introduce new products or services to gain market share
  • 61% will reduce operating costs
  • 40% will restructure.

Tip: Play close attention to that 61% figure. Professionals who can help leadership reduce operating costs by securing more advantageous service contracts, streamline a process or reduce spending, for example, will score big points.

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