Promote yourself to second in command

Sometimes you have to act “as if.”

As if you owned the company. As if you were the chairman or CEO. As if you actually cared about the company’s long term reputation. As if you took accountability for the lives of your coworkers.

Too often, you let the title on your business card keep your mouth shut when you see something that needs to be fixed or stopped. You don’t have to be an SVP to tell the president that something’s broken.

In 1979, Art Sundry, a sales manager at Motorola, promoted himself to second in command when he told Robert Gavlin (Chairman), “our quality stinks!” Galvin winced, his yessir staff gasped. The quality revolution was underway and Japenese competitors were cleaning Motorola’s clocks. Every top exec blamed it on Japanese government subsidies, cheap labor, anything but quality. Art got fed up and stepped up. He didn’t get fired. He was, instead, admired.

Years later, Galvin still tells the story about how Sundry — a leader by self-nomination — helped Motorola see the light, save its bacon and make quality job one.

Are you that courageous? Are you willing to step up today and go “Martin Luther” on your own CEO, EVP, boss?