Be Fierce-full, Not Force-full at Work


Force is dead. Long live fierce.

We usually climb the corporate ladder by being forceful. We get what we want from those who are weaker than us. Because if they had been stronger, we would be doing it their way, not our way, right? This dog-eat-dog mentality is what keeps employees demotivated, tired and unproductive. This is actually the main reason a lot of bright employees refuse to climb the corporate ladder altogether. The illusion that being forceful is the only way up stops employees from doing and being their corporate best. But what is really needed in the corporate world is fierceness, not forcefulness. How to switch from one to the other? 3 good practice tips below.


Turn Requests Into Questions

But not just any questions. The trap questions. The difference? Trap questions lead your colleagues to the end result that you seek. So, instead of saying to the managers that they “need to improve the feedback score”, you could be asking a question “what could help you make the feedback score go up?” So, the fact about the bad score is already in the question. And there is no way to escape it by being defensive or dismissive. Asking these types of questions instead of giving orders has proven time and again to have a threefold effect. First, the results are achieved. Second, the results are achieved faster because the employees are solution co-creators. Third, the results are more sustainable, because asking questions taps into the collective employee consciousness rather than relying on the sole know-how of the HR.


Stay Competitive Without Competing

This one is a toughie. We have been conditioned to think that the only way to stay competitive in the workplace is through competition with our colleagues. Wrong. Competition is only one form of competitiveness, and probably the least productive. And the least satisfying, too. While competition is about getting ahead of others, competitiveness relates to function and ways of performing. It is about getting ahead in terms of processes, sequences, methods, and means. Above all, it is about getting ahead of what you do well to become the best you can be. And making it a continuous practice at work.


Don’t Motivate, Manage Expectations Instead

Employee motivation is popular only because there is a gap in expectations. Believe it or not, all employees want to do a good job. Really, they do. But they don’t because they experience the gap between what was promised and what is, between their vision and their manager’s vision, between their effort and their reward. It is that injustice which makes chanting and holding hands at work so popular. Not to say that chanting doesn’t work, for a few months at least. But there will be a day when employees wake up in the morning and feel that gap again. And then you could do some more chanting or close the gap in expectation management by addressing the roots of the problem. Not just the symptoms.


In order to climb the corporate ladder, no force is required. What is required is the fierce approach to one’s career. Being fierceful means questioning the methods and means, not your colleagues’ truths. It means getting ahead of oneself rather than others. Fierceful at work is about negotiating and aligning expectations with those above, below, and next to you. And it is about letting go of the forceful approach altogether.

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