When you feel like you have joined the ‘old boys club,’ you are playing the game correctly—and trust me that club is still alive and well in most organizations. Here is the secret. It is actually not that hard to join them and once you do they are more receptive than you think to change, out of respect for you, a fellow member.
When you hear that term in regards to the power circle in your business first understand the club has changed.
Through my experiences and observations the ‘old boys club’ just officially became a slang term for ‘the power circle’ in the last 5-10 years.
While it holds the same nickname, in many circles the dynamic of the members physical attributes have shifted, but the mental attitude is the same. The attitude is that they welcome the strong and exclude the weak. In the past, definitions of the weak have included race, gender, and social status, but things like globalization and diversity programs have severely decreased homogeneity in its physical form.
The movers, shakers, power players, and decision makers that make up the ‘old boys club’ now accepts anyone who has proven themselves or has the potential to be sharp, shrewd, and astute.
Even in the toughest environments you can quickly prove all three by doing three things.
1. Taking a Joke
(this is where Human Resources usually gets involved because something highly offensive was done or said)
2. Respectfully giving a joke/jab back (confidence)
3. Proving Your Value (tangible)
When I was an Ensign in the Navy I had a chance to go to the Pentagon for training and to observe how the department of communications for the entire Navy was ran. As you already know, the Pentagon is a big deal.
Senior level civilians and senior level military officers crowd the place. For military officers, the running joke, is in the Pentagon Captains and Colonels go get the coffee. That is, high-ranking military officers do what is considered the low level work because they are in an office, a building, full of higher-ranking military officers consisting of Admirals and Generals.
During my visit, our group took a lunch break and I broke off and headed to something similar to a convenience store with a couple of my fellow low ranking officers to grab some food. While in line, what seemed like a scene out of a movie ensued…
A few Navy Captains walked up behind me already a bit boisterous and said something along the lines of “whoa, what do we have here?” I turned around to look and they continued, “What is going on, what is an Ensign doing here?” The three Captains had the stereotypical look of the ‘old boys,’ but I already knew how to systematically enter their network and my reply worked flawlessly.
With a smile (almost laughter, because of my rank I knew I’d be antagonized at some point throughout the day there and the moment had came) I countered, “well gentlemen, no one here could figure out the sequestration and furlough problem, so they’d figure bringing in some fresh eyes to give it a shot.”
The three Captains gave each other a quick look like they saw Mike Tyson ringside give someone his knockout uppercut, then started laughing and replied, “you’re welcome here anytime,” before we all parted our separate ways.
Believe it or not, with an exchange that quick, even though minor, gave me a visitor’s pass to the circle of those Captains.
I was prepared before I arrived at the pentagon that morning. I already heard the stories of how low ranking officers were treated, so I had my own plan in place to ensure it wouldn’t happen to me. I was bold. Either I was going to take my respect or get into trouble…I could afford the trouble.
By showing I was aware of current affairs, and using one of their own terms (“fresh eyes” is used by senior people to describe those of a lower rank, but the only way I would have already known this is by being near senior people) I demonstrated my value, and that I was invited there to tackle a specific issue. I took a joke, gave a respectful one back, and proved my value in one sentence.
What are some easy ways you know how to play the game? Please comment and share below to help others!
If you liked this article and want to learn more about ascending in your organization make sure to pick up my new book Capture Your Career: How to Get Any Job or Position You Want in 48 Hours or Less available on Amazon now.
About The Author
King is the CEO of KRBE LLC, a company designed to help others reach elite levels in their craft. He has served as a Naval Public Affairs Officer as a trusted advisor providing intuitive advice to senior level decision makers on a daily basis.
During his time in the Navy, he was responsible for developing and presenting briefings for over 500 distinguished visitors, including CEOs, International Media, Congressional Delegations, U.S. and Foreign Ambassadors, and senior military members. His two deployments sparked an insatiable desire to travel, currently visiting or working in over 15 countries and counting.
He attended North Carolina State University where he double majored in Political Science and Criminology while earning a scholarship to play football.
His list of military awards include four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Ribbon, Navy Rifle Sharpshooter Ribbon, and the Navy Pistol Sharpshooter Ribbon.
After completing SERE school King was asked, “why were you recognized for your outstanding performance while in the Resistance Phase of SERE,” and he answered, “I honestly don’t know.”
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