Help Your Colleagues Look Good


Photo by Kerri 2008

Lift your colleagues up and they’ll lift you up.  One of the keys to being effective at work is helping your colleagues look good.  In Influence Without Authority (2nd Edition), Allan Cohen and David Bradford write about how the most effective organizational members help their colleagues look good.

Help Your Colleagues Look Good
Effective organizational members help their colleagues look good.  Cohen and Bradford write:

Helping your colleagues look good is part of being an effective organizational member and worth learning to do automatically.  Don’t wait for “big” occasions; there are endless chances to be looking out for your colleague’s interests and helping them as you can.

Build Deep Relationships Over Occasional and Distant
There’s a connection between deep relationships and being more effective at work.  Cohen and Bradford write:

This concept connects to recent research that found that people who made many exchanges as part of daily work were higher status and more productive.  Their relationships with colleagues were rich and involved, not just occasional and distant.

Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:

  • Help your colleagues look good.
  • Build rich and involved relationships
  • There’s a link between deep relationships and higher status and improved productivity

Back at Work
While it sounds like common sense to help your colleagues look good, when you’re in a competitive environment with a lot of one-upmanship, it can be tough to remember to put into practice.  One key for me is that making others great helps me grow.  I also know that making others look bad, is never a way to make yourself look good.

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  1. none of us is as smart as all of us!
    Can’t remember whether that’s the exact quote but that something that I always keep in mind.

  2. It’s true for everything. I’ll never understand people who try to build themselves up by putting others down. It just doesn’t make sense.

  3. Helping your colleagues look good is a win-win situation. It never hurts to be reminded of this.

  4. @Louisa – Sometimes it helps to remind folks – “hey, we’re on the same team.”

    @Shamelle – Interestingly, that’s one of Ken Blanchard’s favorite sayings. I got to meet him –

    @Vered – I think it’s that whole inferiority complex, comparison, and ego thing.

    @Stacey – You’re right – it’s a win win. It also comes back to compete with yourself vs. compete with others.

  5. Hi J.D.,

    Great little post. I think most people hate playing the “political” game at work, but it certainly can’t hurt to help your co-workers out every now and then. It may not pay off like you thought, but it is good to create good will among all your co-workers.


  6. @Jeremy

    Thanks Jeremy. I agree, most people hate playing politics, especially when there’s a lack of integrity or a conflict in values. I think the key is to stay consistent with your values, be authentic, and shift from finding flaws to finding the positive. From a metaphor standpoint, I think it’s about shifting from competition to collaboration.

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