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“The 3 Rings Of Power – How To Climb Up The Corporate Ladder With Style and Substance”

Posted by on Oct 1, 2014 in Career Management | 1 comment

This article is dedicated to all the hard working readers out there who want to climb the corporate ladder faster, be more successful, and stay successful. This is another true story of mine which has immeasurable value that I hope will help you in your corporate journey.

At the time that I was still employed and enjoying my stints in the corporate world, I did not really know that much about life yet, but I did know one thing — I wanted to become “somebody” in the company (any company ) that I worked for fast.

Taking that desire to heart, I tried different strategies, experimented with this and that. All in all, I have had three corporate jobs in my entire life, and got promoted, or given an award, or became the “model” employee in every single one of them. So I guess, I must have done something right. So I back tracked and tried to understand what it was that I was doing and how could I do it over and over again. The result is what I now call my “Three Rings of Power”.

Until today, I have not taught these valuable lessons to anyone except my wife and one other close friend both of whom applied what I taught and got instant results so I know that this lesson is not just applicable to me but for everyone who wants to get somewhere in their careers. So if you want to get promoted faster or want to get somewhere sooner when you land that job, read on.

Let me first take you back to a conversation I had with my former manager at Islacom (now known as Touch Mobile or TM), she had noticed all my hard work, she knew I was driven and hungry to get to the next level of my career so one day, she asked me: “Mark, you seem like you are in a hurry to get promoted, you work until midnight almost every night, but what I don’t understand is what’s the rush? And why do you work so hard? you are still very young” To which I said, “I want to get to where I am fast because I want to have the time later on to enjoy my life. I believe that if I work hard, I will learn faster. And if I know what I’m doing faster, the easier it will get later on….”

Which brings me to my first lesson and the first “Ring of power”, I call it “Technical Power” or the power you will possess once you understand exactly what your job requires you to do, and how you can do it expertly. In other words, master your job so that no one will doubt you when you have to make a tough choice or a tough recommendation. Your Technical Power gives you the “substance” that you need to get people to start listening to you.

A few days after talking to my manager, I was invited to talk to the new Head of the Mobile Division of Islacom (there was a re-organization at that time) Like my manager, he had also noticed how hard and diligently I’ve been working, but it wasn’t just diligence that he saw, he saw someone who had something to prove. We talked for a while and asked me if I would like to take on the role of Business Development officer instead of just being a marketing analyst. It was a “lateral” move meaning I was not getting promoted, just reassigned, with a slightly higher pay. I agreed. My assignment in this new role would be to develop the “International Roaming Sevice” of Islacom which at that time had not been functional yet. So within a month after taking it on, we had 2 functioning international roaming partners – Deutche Telecoms and Shinawatra of Thailand and within 6 months, I had opened up a little over 18 new roaming partners.

For those who don’t know what International Roaming means, it meant that any Islacom subscriber back then would now be able to “roam” or use their cell phones in 18 different countires without having to change their phones. This was an accomplishment that was recognized by everyone at Islacom, and I am personally still very proud of until today. But more importantly, this was my “Technical Power” at work.

But it was not just my “Technical power” that allowed me to launch these new countries. Yes, I knew how International Roaming worked, and I was the “expert” in my role as Business Development Officer to be able to launch it, but I would not have been able to do it if I had no help and cooperation of the other department heads within Islacom. In the process of launching these new roaming partners, I had developed the second Ring of Power – “Personal Power”

“Personal Power” is the power that you develop when you are able to get your peers to move and act because you simply asked them to. For me my personal power manifested itself because I first had “technical power”, the department heads, specifically the billing department, the legal department, the engineering department, the customer service department, and the marketing department all had to listen to me because I was the person who knew how all the little parts fit together, I was the “technician” for the launching of the service. Although, it started out that they were required to listen to me, through time, it developed into something else, something better, I had become very good friends with all of them. And here is the secret to becoming friends or at least in good terms with anyone you work with – give them respect, listen to their advice, and let them know that you do not just care for the job, but you care for them as well and really be sincere about it. So when we met, and I asked them to do this for the launch of the succeeding countries, they would gladly oblige. Hence, the huge and “smooth” success of every new roaming partner country that we launched.

But, like a lot of success, there were also a few challenges along the way, but before I get into that, let’s recap the first 2 rings:

I succeeded in my corporate career because I had: 1.) Technical Power – I mastered how to do my job; 2.) Personal Power – I was able to get people to do what I asked because they wanted to, not because they had to. (to read part 1 of this 2 part article, visit my blog at

Which now brings me to the third ring of power, I call it Political Power – To get somewhere in your career, it is not enough to be great at your job, it is not enough to have people to want to do things for you, you must also have support from influential people, in other words, you must gain political power as well.

In my previous article, I mentioned that I also had some tough (exciting) times during the launching of Islacom’s Roaming service back then. My personal power and my technical power helped me a lot during these tough times but more importantly, it is because of these incidents that I had gained “political power” within Islacom. This is my story which I hope will benefit you and your career.

I still remember the day like it was yesterday, I was working hard on launching the 12th country for Islacom. It was 10AM and the Islacom Executive Managers Meeting had convened in the boardroom. The head of the mobile division was discussing progress with Deutche Telecom headed by Mr. Ike Haase, the senior man handling all operational decisions for the German Delegation, and he had a reputation of being blunt and scary but very effective and efficient.

As the meeting progressed, I was invited to come in to talk about what was happening to International Roaming. When I came in, I was introduced by Mr. Garcia, the mobile division head and I began to brief the executives of the progress. Then it began, Mr. Haase started to interrupt me and question why we only had 11 roaming partners when it should already be more than that. The room was silent waiting for my answer. Calmly, I answered by explaining the technical processes that needed to be done (I had discussed this thoroughly with the engineering department many times so I really knew what I was talking about). To which he almost snarled at me and said “that is not technically correct” in an intimidating tone. Unfortunately for him, I do not scare easily, especially if I know that I am right. So I said in a very matter of fact way, “Sorry Mr. Haase, but what I am saying is correct, and this is the reality of the situation.” The tension in the air was so thick that you could hardly breathe and while my eyes were fixed squarely on Mr. Haase, I could feel, Mr. Garcia, the head of the mobile group staring at me in disbelief and even a bit scared for me and what was to become of this stand off. Then after a couple of seconds of silence, which seemed like an eternity, Mr. Haase’s Colleague Mr. Curry chimed in and said: “Mark is right, this is indeed the procedure that must be carried out.” With that, Mr. Haase took another pause and looked at Mr. Curry, then to Mr. Garcia, then back to me and said. “That will be all Mark.”

I excused myself properly, and before leaving looked again at Mr. Garcia, this time he was smiling like a proud parent and gave me the slightest of nods. It was him after all that assigned me to International Roaming in the first place. As I closed the door behind me, I felt my legs turn to jello and I paused for a moment to catch my breath, I didn’t realize that I wasn’t breathing the entire time.

The meeting ended around 12:30PM. I was at my desk at the time working, when I looked up from my cubicle, I saw Mr. Haase with his ever serious demeanor standing in front of me then he started to speak, this time in a warmer and friendlier way. He said: “Mark I apologize if I was a bit stern with you in the meeting a while ago. I am here right now because you have proven to me that you are on top of things and not a lot of people have shown that to me. From now on, if you have any problem whatsoever, you can call me at this number.” After which he gave me his personal calling card. Shook my hand and left for another meeting.

I couldn’t help but smile, because I had gained the respect of one of the most influential people in Islacom. I did not realize it back then, but at that point, I had gained political power.

A few days later, I was called to Mr. Garcia’s office where he sat me down, smiled and said that he was right about me, he didn’t just see a hardworking and diligent employee, he saw someone who wanted to get somewhere and to prove himself. He then asked me if my manager had talked to me yet, I said no, not yet. He said, “Well Mark, that’s okay, I wanted to give you the news personally anyway. Starting the first of May, you will be officially promoted as Islacom’s Business Development Head for International Roaming, congratulations and keep up the great work.

In summary, The 3 rings of power are all inter connected to one another. Technical Power gets you respect, Personal Power gets you results, and Political power gets you recognition and influence. Once you gain all three rings of power, I guarantee, you will get to where you want to go faster.

Good luck with your career. See you at the top.
Until the next article, good luck, and God bless.
Author Box:
Mark So is a fervent businessman, Investor and educator. He is the Chairman and CEO of Businessmaker Academy—a business, finance and corporate training center. He is the founder and Chief Forex Trainer of Forex Club Asia, A Trading club of Forex Traders across Asia. He is also the Co-Founder of HR Club Philippines, a network of professional HR practitioners in the Philippines. Mark, together with his loving wife also created a website

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One Comment

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  1. Aiza

    I think when you really have the 3 rings there’s really a great chance that you will succeed. This can also be applied when you have a business. Technical power – you cant properly run a business that you don’t know. Personal power you need to gain trust of your employees and political power of you gain trust and respect of possible investors it can yield to expansion. 🙂

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