Route to the top: Seven ways to bend the rules

Nice guys finish last, the saying goes. So here are some tips for the less scrupulous.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Move the masses. Think like Martin Luther King and paint a vivid picture of the great things you hope to accomplish. Once your colleagues see what could be achieved with a little audacity, they'll be more likely to turn a blind eye, help you navigate the labyrinth, or hang the rules and join the revolution.

Act natural. Behave as if your actions are totally normal and only the most self-assured colleague will challenge you. And if they do? Boost your credibility by speaking at a measured pace - gushing suggests guilty; steady suggests self-assured.

Befriend rule-enforcers. It's hard to be tough on someone you like, especially if they backed you up at that board meeting.

Crack the unwritten code. Glorified traditions and inherited habits aren't rules. If you're blocked by 'that's the process here', ask the rule-maker to explain the logic. If their case flounders, point out the inconsistencies - then do as you please. If there's no reason for a rule to exist, there's no reason to uphold it.

Be notorious. For many years, Richard Branson claimed to have no strategy for the Virgin Group. 'I've never followed business models or what marketing gurus say,' he claimed. 'I do what I want'. His exasperated advisers left him to it - with awesome results. Build a reputation for irreverence with unusual processes and outrageous suggestions. But be ready to prove the business benefits of your unorthodox approach - a rebel without results is just a loose cannon.

Don't get caught. Imagine your rule-flouting going public. Could you cope with the fall-out? Ex-Formula One manager Flavio Briatore lost face (and his job) when he was accused of fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Bending the rules is a natural part of F1, he claimed, but Briatore received a life ban.

Take the risk. Chances are no-one will notice, and even if they do, they'll admire your 'entrepreneurial spirit' (ie, cheek).

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99 -

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