'SNL' writer knew to make demands from a power position

After three years as head writer for Saturday Night Live, Adam McKay was ready to quit in 2000. But before leaving SNL, McKay took his agent’s advice and ap­­proached Lorne Michaels with a series of de­­mands he’d need fulfilled to stay put. Employing the "least-interest" principle worked for him beautifully.
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Leadership means knowing when to concede as much as knowing when to fight; the next time you're about to enter a power struggle whose outcome isn't exactly life or death, think of what you might gain if you were to simply lay down your arms and give in to the opposition. It could be an excellent opportunity to score quick points for maturity, reason, courtesy, diplomacy—all without giving up much at all, making you the real winner. And now you've essentially re-armed yourself for the next fight, and have high ground to stand on.


Ask "Z"

Ask "Z"

Dumb move upset you? Proceed with care

Q. Some genius on our board of directors insisted that we reconfigure our workspace and go to an “open plan” with all our desks in a big airplane-hangar-like room. Now everyone hates it, as I predicted. Should I fight for the old office layout or keep quiet?

Leadership Library: Weekly Feature

Leadership Library: Weekly Feature

Do You Have the Emotional Intelligence to Lead?

Emotions didn’t use to have a place in the business world … but not anymore. People with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. Why? Emotional intelligence. Watch it now

Kevin Eikenberry

Remarkable Leadership with Kevin

Questions are Like Diamonds

Questions are like diamonds — they are extremely valuable and can be used in many different ways. While we mostly think of diamonds in jewelry, most people think of questions as a way to gain understanding or solve problems. But like diamonds, which have many industrial and other non-jewelry uses, questions have many other uses too. I want to use the remainder of the space I have here to talk about some uses we haven’t discussed much yet this month.

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs

Gender balance yields better results

It’s time for a new discussion on women in leadership, says Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, who heads a gender consulting firm.

Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School

Negotiation Coach

Hidden benefits of distrust

Q. I’ve heard a lot about the benefits of developing trust in negotiation and experienced some of them myself. But in my negotiations, I find myself struggling with the question of how trusting to be. Should I always aim to be as trusting as possible?

Marie McIntyre, Ph.D.

Ask the Workplace Coach

The moment you must decide who's boss

Q: “I supervise a data clerk who is rude and uncooperative. She acts independently, as if I don’t exist, and snaps at me whenever I tell her something. My manager and I have discussed this, but have not been able to come up with a solution. There is just no way to communicate with her. Any suggestions?” Defeated

A look at the Yankees' key closer

Oct. 22, 2014

As leaders in most any line of work will tell you, becoming a leader is mainly about what’s in your head, not in your physical prowess or material advantages. Mariano Rivera is a good example.

Steer clear of 4 costly pitfalls

Oct. 21, 2014

Would-be leaders can limit their effectiveness by clinging to self-defeating actions and attitudes. In your rush to succeed, it’s easy to overreach and alienate potential allies. Avoid these four common traps to strengthen your ability to lead over the long term.

Keep virtual meetings on track: 5 tips

Oct. 20, 2014

It’s hard enough to keep face-to-face meetings on schedule. But conference calls can become a noisy free-for-all. Here’s how to run them smoothly.

Take the dread out of annual reviews

Oct. 17, 2014

Annual reviews have been drawing fire lately. Here’s how to make them better.