People of great power get there by dealing with other successful people of power.

Successful people understand that no person is an island and that everyone needs other people’s shoulders to stand on. Thus, within the power elite, powerful people help powerful people and power grows. Within power circles, it need not be mentioned that by helping another, or by doing a favour for another, an unwritten contract is thus put into play and is binding upon each other in ALMOST the same way that a written legal contract binds parties to performance. One power player does a favour for another and expects to be, and will be, repaid a similar or greater favour at some point in the future.

Many hard-working knowledge workers are too busy working hard. They do not look up and see or understand the powerful influence helping others can play on their own career. To many, it is all about doing better than the other internal competition, grabbing the spotlight, playing office politics, etc. But there is something much more powerful…the granting and doing of favours to others…and making it crystal clear that you expect the favour to be returned at some point in time when you call upon them.

For those of you old enough to remember the movie, “The Godfather”, in which the mob boss would grant serious favours and move mountains for people desperate in life, but then later would call them to task by requiring the favour to be returned tenfold, the same principle is at play here. When someone needs help, you help. But, don’t be bashful in setting out the contract BEFORE YOU LIFT A FINGER TO HELP. Sometimes there is a polite and diplomatic way to do this, often, though, there is no nice or politically correct way. You just lay it out there. “I will help you on one condition…when I need a big favour from you, in the future, you promise me that you will be there for me when I need to call upon you.” After that, you trust that his or her word will be honoured.

The reason you have to spell out the loan and that you will collect payment, is that most people in companies do not understand power politics. And most stagnate in their careers.

Put many favours out there. Help many of your colleagues or even management within other departments to whom you are not beholden. Cross charters freely with your help. Build up a rich bank account of favours. Have many people within a company “owe you”.

One of the positive elements that will come from this is the amount of positive leverage you can win from others. Those who owe you favours often will speak well of you behind your back. Those who owe you favours often will put your name forward in positive ways at various meetings.