The world of business is full of unique types–the visionary, the genius, the workaholic, the wunderkind, the whiner and the troubleshooter. Nonetheless, other people work harder. Other people work more intelligently. Other people are more productive. Other people display a greater command of their areas of responsibility. Yet, few seem to reach the top despite clear potential. Every industry, it seems, has a professional ass kisser, and famous examples abound.
We’re not talking about late bloomers like Michael Jordan who was once cut from his high school basketball team, or cases of inconsistent development like Tim Tebow. We’re talking about people who actually seem to thrive on mediocrity. How do these guys do it? How do they manage to transform utter mediocrity into such powerful assets?
The behavior of people who manage to fail and still succeed have been defined by seven habits:
The Smooth Talker
These types of individuals can often times be the agreeable and inexhaustible small-talkers. A fifteen-minute chat with this one may leave you with a vague sense of a pleasant personality, but the next day you’re likely to have trouble recalling a single word of his forgettable conversation.
Understanding the Chain of Command
The key is managing up. Go ahead and waste all the time you want on actual problem solving, you pedestrian. The real issue at hand is pleasing an unhappy boss. The climbers tend to focus their energy on making sure they hammer out issues with their bosses and ensure they are informed and appeased through excessive Power Point presentations and elaborate promises.
They spot the void and then rush to fill it in–a cunning move, to say the least.
Once he’s maneuvered himself into a stable position with sufficient upward mobility, the corporate opportunist displays an uncannny knack for avoiding complex, high-risk, labor intensive assignments. While most workers want to be challenged and grow, this type just wants to get promoted. He tends to delegate and scapegoat. Limiting challenges means more free time to suck up to the boss and further his effortless ascent. By minimizing risk, he avoids mistakes. And by avoiding mistakes, he stays off the administration’s shit list.
Fake It Until They Make it… Or Just Keep Faking It
These guys are true bullshit artists. They know what success looks like and are masters at creating the illusion of competence without necessarily possessing an abundance or even a portion of it.
They are single-minded and completely obsessed with grabbing the next rung on the ladder, and their proximity to power allows them to calibrate opportunities and time their moves with with ungodly precision. He’ll be your superior before you can contemplate negotiating a wage increase.
Fitting the Role
These individuals tend to be polished and completely presentable. They perfectly cultivate the “Young Executive” look and appear to know what they’re doing. This crisp appearance, combined with expertise in small talk makes these gentlemen perfect lunchtime sidekicks to the boss and his power wielding cronies.
It’s pretty easy to see why these dunces tend to get ahead in life. As the perfect professional companions and dutifully proud errand boys, they are nonthreatening, predictable and easy to control. As far as the boss is concerned, brains are a dime a dozen and talent can always be replaced, but absolute loyalty is a rare commodity. What most bosses want is a clean conduit of their own “genius”, not a potential threat to the status quo. It’s like Woody Allen once said: 80 percent of success is showing up.
How do you deal with these characters?
Be prepared to pick up some slack and sit through a good number of unnecessary meetings. Avoiding contact may not be too difficult, as this suck-up typically spends most of his time tagging along with the higher-ups or chasing the boss. Working closely with this individual may increase your responsibilities. Just be sure to cc the rest of the team so that this idiot doesn’t take all the credit during the weekend
rounds at Beth Page Black. The only true way to efficiently deal with these office cronies is to suck it up and stop whining.
You can either go over him or around him, it’s your choice to man up and keep making the move. Grudging their success will only make you a less efficient drudge that lacks the ambition to out think the competition. Don’t let your own envy choke you out. Prove your prowess and assert your position like a man.