Chapter 4. Take Ownership of Your Job Without Stepping on Toes

Forty years ago Robert Ardrey, writing about the “territorial imperative,” amazed readers by showing that humans are no less territorial than animals when it comes to staking out our “turf.” We may not bite strangers, urinate on streetlamps, or tunefully sing our claims to territory (particularly not in the office), but we do want others to be clear on who we are, what we know, and where our influence lies.

When starting a new job, it’s important that you seek out and claim your “territory”: the tasks, issues, and decisions you are responsible for and the way in which you do them. However, in proving yourself, you must take care not to step on anyone’s toes. This is a time for establishing ...

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