Career & Success

Whether you like it or not, office politics is unavoidable

We meet many people in organisations who have an ingrained aversion to organisational politics. They see politics as divisive, sinister and illegitimate. They say: ‘Without politics, this organisation would function smoothly’. They are wary of the competition for jobs, status and power which often leads to dishonesty and manipulation. They fear that political skill is incompatible with personal authenticity […]

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    Being the boss is not always good: power taints how we interact with others

Being the boss is not always good: power taints how we interact with others

Lord Acton’s quote that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” probably conforms to most of our experiences with powerful people. People who feel powerful tend to be self-focused, less empathetic, a little more rude or pushy, and just generally difficult to deal with. While most people generally understand that power makes others more difficult to deal with, one […]

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    Political ideology influences how we do business and whom we want to work with

Political ideology influences how we do business and whom we want to work with

After the bruising and contentious 2016 US presidential election and the subsequent controversies of President Donald Trump’s first year in office, it’s not surprising that Americans’ evaluations of members of the opposite political party have reached an all-time low. According to data from the Pew Research Center, 45 per cent of Republicans and 41 per cent of Democrats think the other party […]

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    What power does to you – the psychological consequences of power

What power does to you – the psychological consequences of power

We often blame the behaviours of those who have power and abuse it on the individual and his or her personality. That is, we make what psychologists call a dispositional attribution. But there is more to individual and personality differences when it comes to understanding the behaviour of those in power. In fact, what is often occulted are the […]

We need to have a career plan B up our sleeves

Our societies, especially in developed countries, will soon have a majority of their adult population in the over 50 group. The UK will reach this point in the mid 2030s. This increasing healthy longevity means that at age 50 we likely have 25-30 years of health and energy to look forward to. At the same time, most of us […]

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    Digital hiring: what recruiters can see on your social media

Digital hiring: what recruiters can see on your social media

Twelve years since worldwide adoption, we now have an entire generation joining the workforce that do not remember a world before social media. Without professional experience or understanding of what companies expect to see (and not see), tomorrow’s workforce are faced with growing up and learning about the person they wish to become, publicly, traceably and ultimately, judged before […]

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    Nilofer Merchant: Ideas can now spread and scale through networks, rather than hierarchies

Nilofer Merchant: Ideas can now spread and scale through networks, rather than hierarchies

As a former executive at Apple and Autodesk, and consultant for a number of other Silicon Valley companies, Nilofer Merchant has a pretty good idea of how to move things forward in the business world. One key ingredient, if you ask her, is collaboration. How to get people to collaborate, and companies to value collective work more than hierarchy, […]

Is race a taboo topic in the workplace?

Helen feels uncomfortable chatting to Sasha, her work colleague, beyond exchanging pleasantries.  She is concerned that she might say the wrong thing and cause offence to Sasha, who is black, and so she avoids spending time with her even though she likes her. Sasha is aware that Helen is awkward around her, but she’s unsure why, and she also […]

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    The invisible entrepreneur: from unemployment to unstable self-employment

The invisible entrepreneur: from unemployment to unstable self-employment

Since the 2008 financial crisis, entrepreneurship has become the preferred public solution to combat unemployment. Public discourses in many EU countries, including the UK, portray entrepreneurship as socially desirable and feasible. However, this ‘solution’ makes the unemployed responsible for creating their own jobs by asking them to stoically transition between unemployment and self-employment with little or no institutional support.

Thus, the […]

When the only way is up: the pitfalls of upward mobility

For over two years, I have been working as an assistant professor at Delft University of Technology, making my way up the hierarchical, academic career ladder. I started as a PhD student at another university and, with every step up, from assistant professor to associate professor to full professor, I will get more money, more authority, more responsibility, and […]

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    Should you disclose an invisible disability in a job interview?

Should you disclose an invisible disability in a job interview?

Individuals with invisible disabilities face a dilemma when applying for work: Do I disclose my disability to the potential employer and, if so, how? This dilemma occurs because disabled applicants face potential biases that hinder perceptions of their employability: Although hiring managers might feel sorry for or pity these applicants they may not want to hire them because of […]

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    How to avoid burnout when you follow your passion in your career choice

How to avoid burnout when you follow your passion in your career choice

Emma always loved animals. When she accepted a position in her local SPCA, she thought she had found her dream job. Instead, she found herself shocked by the lack of training and resources, and the sheer number of heartbreaking euthanasias. Seeing her coworkers as less dedicated than herself, she distanced herself from other staff and compulsively hoarded animals in […]

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    Don’t curse the inflow of emails: It can help you do your job better

Don’t curse the inflow of emails: It can help you do your job better

Do you find yourself becoming frustrated because you keep getting bombarded with email at work? Do you think that email is not really interruptive because it is you who decides when — and whether —to read and respond to your incoming emails? But do you also find that while this might be true in theory, you often can’t help […]

Would you choose to be happy?

This might initially sound like a silly question. I mean, who would choose not to be happy? Well, no one, if it was an easy choice between happiness and misery. But what if it was a harder choice between happiness and wealth? Or happiness and health? What then? The study reported in this blog post sought to find out.

We now […]

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    Rolf Dobelli: ‘People will say about you what they want. Treat it as white noise.’

Rolf Dobelli: ‘People will say about you what they want. Treat it as white noise.’

More than a principle or a rule, we need a whole mental toolkit to help us understand the world and live a better life. That’s a key idea behind Rolf Dobelli’s new book, in which he shares 52 practical insights, one chapter at a time. Rolf is a writer, novelist and entrepreneur. He has an MBA and a PhD in economic philosophy […]

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    Which subjects bring the best career outcomes for UK university students?

Which subjects bring the best career outcomes for UK university students?

One of the most important dilemmas young people face if they’ve chosen to pursue Higher Education is which subject to study. Should they study something they’re passionate about, or the subject with higher chance of good graduate employment and higher income?

For young people graduating into the aftermath of the recession and experiencing more precarious employment, lower income in real-terms […]

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    If work stresses you out, give yourself permission to take control

If work stresses you out, give yourself permission to take control

One of the greatest expenses for organisations is, of course, people. And one of the greatest people expenses is absenteeism. And, in my 30 years of consulting, I’ve found that one of the greatest causes of absenteeism is stress. And one of the greatest causes of stress is the incorrect belief that we don’t know what’s going to happen […]

Emancipating ourselves from emotional repression at work

Are your emotions always yours? If you think so, you’d better think again. In a recently published book, I argue that emotions are often used by organizations to manipulate and repress workers.

“So what?” you might wonder . . . Are organizations not supposed to explore ways to control the behaviour of their staff so that it supports the bottom […]

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    The effects of good looks on professional success: It’s complicated

The effects of good looks on professional success: It’s complicated

Beauty can be consoling, disturbing, sacred, and profane; it can be exhilarating, appealing, inspiring, and chilling. It can affect us in an unlimited variety of ways. Yet it is never viewed with indifference: beauty demands to be noticed; it speaks to us directly like the voice of an intimate friend. If there are people who are indifferent to beauty, […]

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    Endless online distraction is hurting leaders’ ability to make decisions

Endless online distraction is hurting leaders’ ability to make decisions

Complexity has become our enemy. Complexity coupled with the ridiculous levels of distraction that now exist make us exhausted and feel that we are not on top of our game. Often that is true: we make things too complicated and the vast amount of noise that surrounds us confuses things.

The onslaught of social media in its many forms means […]