I’m afraid to say I spent the first half of my career doing exactly all the wrong things to get ahead. Somewhere in my formative years, like many young managers, I got it into my head that the secret to success came from being smarter, working harder, and executing reliably. I’ve since learned that these pearls of conventional wisdom are not, in fact, the beacons to success in the corporate world I’ve come to know. But who could really blame me? The rhetoric is everywhere.

“Be results oriented”—never.

“Hold people accountable”—nope.

“Be passionate about your ideas”—definitely not.

We treat these mantras as gospel and to argue against them is business sacrilege. I dare you to go into your next management meeting and tell the CEO that ...

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