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How to Succeed When You Are Not the Favorite

Dealing with Favoritism and Nepotism in the Workplace
Success in Spite of Favoritism

There are times when we will have to engage with people who neither like us nor respect us. Get used to it. It’s a part of life. But wait a minute you say. What if it’s my manager? How can I succeed when that person holds the keys to my future?

My first answer is to suggest that another person does not hold the keys to your future. You do! …unless you have handed the keys over. Unfortunately, for many, they have handed over the keys. My role is to help you regain your keys. I acknowledge there are some poor managers and leaders. However, there are things we can do to positively affect our future.

  1. Take ownership. Acknowledge that you are responsible for your life. You can choose whether to stay or go. You decide how you will respond to good and bad situations. You can learn from good leaders (what to do) and bad leaders (what not to do). Commit to developing a positive mental attitude regardless of the situation. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

  2. Be disciplined. Know how your personal contribution fits into the mission of your organization. According to a 2018 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average office worker works less than 3 hours while at work even though they clock in 8.8 hours. You can make a big difference by working for more than 6 hours while at work. You would double your productivity as compared to your colleagues. What if you actually worked the entire time you were paid to work? You could almost triple your output. That would be difficult to ignore even for the worst leaders.

  3. Set goals and adjust along the way. While it is important to set goals, having a growth mindset is key to long-lasting success. Many unsuccessful people blame external circumstances for their underachievement. Successful people realize there are seasons in life and they adjust accordingly. For example, it would take the average person about four months to walk from NY to LA assuming 8 hours of walking each day. If you start in February (Winter), you wear warmer clothing. You cannot change the season or the weather. As you get closer to LA and Spring, you wear lighter clothing. But you continue to adjust and move towards your goal. After reaching your goal, determine what’s next. Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep adjusting along the way.

  4. Prepare today for your next role. Make sure you are very good at your current job before pursuing your next role. Become a high achiever. You will discover other high achievers who will want to network with you. This will expose you to other opportunities inside and outside of your organization. Good leaders are looking for high performers. Performing optimally in your current role is a very good indicator that you will perform very well in your next role.

You can be successful whether you are the favorite or not. Your success is dependent upon your personal growth. You hold the keys! Make sure you work harder on growing yourself than you do on your job. Be a high performer who personally grows continuously. Remember the words of former Pepsi CEO, Indra Nooyi. “If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you.”

These are my four tips. What else would you add to the list? I look forward to reading your comments.

Please contact us today for a free no-obligation consultation. At Apogee, we work with entities to strengthen their pipeline of leaders. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, we specialize in helping others lead through change and we offer premier leadership training programs and experiences. We welcome the opportunity to help you grow your team and/or you in the areas of leadership and personal growth. Find out more at

That's it for now. Until the next tip...

Mike Nwankwo

Founder & CEO


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