Have a Plan
Being a general manager was both fun and pain. It was 50 percent more work but only 20 percent more pay. My next step, logically, was regional director. But it didn't appeal. More work—much more work but for not that much more money. I began to develop a plan (Rules 24–34). Where did I want to go next? What did I want to do? I was getting bored being stuck in the office all the time and all those endless dreary meetings. And all that time spent at head office. Not for me. I wanted to have fun again. I wanted to practice the Rules. I formulated my plan.
What the company didn't have was a roving troubleshooter—a sort of general manager's general manager. I put Rule 4: Carve Out a Niche for Yourself into play. I suggested to the chairman that a report was needed. I never suggested that this was the job I wanted, but the agenda was obvious, I suppose. I got it, of course, and became a peripatetic general manager, answerable directly only to the chairman and with a job description I wrote myself. And pay? A lot more than the regional directors were on, but they didn't know and I didn't let on (Part V: Look After Yourself). I cultivated their support and friendship; I was never a threat because it was obvious I wasn't after their job. They may have wanted the money I was making if they had known, but they didn't want the little niche I had carved out for myself.
And I did this without being ruthless, dishonest, or unpleasant. In fact, I was always diplomatic when dealing with the general managers. I treated them with courtesy and politeness, even when I had to confront them on some aspect of their job. I added If you can't say anything nice—shut up and learned the rules in Part VIII: Cultivate Diplomacy.