Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

There’s a chameleon in the office!

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010


When chameleons come in human form, they appear to be the sincerest of sincere, the most absolutely believable and credible anyone could ever be.

The problem is, without a continuous, integrated and solid core self, they have to mirror their environment.  That’s you or whoever the ‘you’ is with whom they’re relating in the moment.

So, when with you, they’ll mirror your beliefs, your values, your attitudes… and, because of that, create fantastic rapport with you. You’d think they were your best buddy.  Ten minutes later, they’re with some-one else and… what do you know?  Now they’re mirroring that someone-one else’s beliefs, values and attitudes and, because of that,  creating fantastic rapport with them.

In the office, a chameleon is a Grade A menace!

In a group, they’ll mirror the general consensus of beliefs, values, norms and attitudes.  They’ll go whichever way the wind’s blowing so as to maintain their likeable front and serve their own particular agenda.  The problem is that, as part of  a group, once alone with an individual they’re blowing hot and cold again according to that individual’s take on things.

And, with Machiavelian tendencies, they’ll be divisive and destructive, often opposing the leader, or setting themselves up as ‘better’ than the leader, and/or stirring up trouble in subtle and underhand ways.

Call them on their behaviour and they’ll flare up defensively, question your judgement and downright lie.  Only, it’s not a lie to them.  They believe they have integrity, if that’s what you’re calling them on.  They believe they have strong moral values, if that’s what you’re calling them on.  They’ll believe they said ‘white’ in the face of undeniable evidence that they said ‘black’.  They will bombard you with rationalisations and excuses to maintain their position, whatever that happens to be at the time.

Never give a chameleon the benefit of doubt!

Because, due to this psychological personality flaw, they’re eminently untrustworthy… with themselves, as well as other people.   They can talk the talk and even look as if they’re walking the walk because they’re very good at acting out a role, convincing themselves as well as others.

So, it’s not surprising that a regional director with whom I recently worked, doubted his own judgement and sanity, when the chameleon, who had been so plausible. was exposed.  Because, if they stick around in one place for long enough or long enough periods… and, often, they don’t… they’ll get caught out through inconsistencies and incongruent behaviours.  They will always, always trip themselves up eventually.

And when they do, their usual way of resolving things is to get on their high horse, have a big falling out with who-ever’s calledl them on their behaviour and walk out/leave in high dudgeon. Which is exactly how my client’s ‘chameleon’ behaved with him.  No performance management there, then!

The only way I know of managing a chameleon is having them ‘fall in love’ with you.  So besotted do they become with you that they’ll follow your lead, i.e., clone themselves in line with you.  However, that lacks integrity and is manipulative… which mirrors the chameleon’s behaviour wonderfully.

So, your comments on chameleons, in general, and if it’s possible to manage them in an ethical way would be most welcome!


‘Authentic’ leadership is a load of rubbish!

Saturday, July 10th, 2010

Pleeeeeez!… If it’s genuine why headline it?  It will speak for itself.  You don’t have to do or be certain things to be ‘authentic’.  You just are!  So, with sceptical mind, I went to a conference workshop this week  entitled ‘Developing Authentic Leadership’.

To be honest, I think I went for a fight. I think I went anticipating the same old same old ideas and formulae that I could challenge and kick at.

Ian Roberts from The Thinking Partnership started with a declaration his piece wasn’t in traditional workshop style.  People were free to make comments and ask questions (so could learn from each other anyway) but he wasn’t into a traditional workshop… Or, it transpired, a traditional anything else!

Instead, he launched into several stories which showed how fake most of which goes by the name of authenticity is in our culture.  And how it’s often seen in self leadership as finding your ‘essence’ in a narcissistic way, abandoning relationships, home, work, whatever and looking for some magical fit some mystery somewhere else.

I loved it!  He was talking stuff  in my upcoming book, albeit with a different approach and a different language.  There were a few minor points where I disagreed but, hey, at core, he and I are absolutely on the same wave length,

Some other ‘coaches’ in the large audience most certainly didn’t love it!

They expressed disappointment his ‘workshop’ wasn’t in the traditional formula.  They said they were confused… always a good sign indicating old ideas are breaking down and new ones in the process of forming.

They commented on how his manner had created a negative emotional reaction in them (so much for response-ability!).  They expressed feelings mostly of anger or frustration, some of feeling insulted by his approach.  And some verged on being personally attacking.

Never mind their palpable high levels of anxiety on having their expectations of the workshop and their beliefs about authentic leadership challenged big time!

And, if they didn’t comment, a large number of them just got up and left.

These were coaches!  These were people to whom other people entrust their precious selves for growth.  Yet they couldn’t sit with their own discomfort, dislike, diagreement, inner conflict or whatever else was going on for them.  So, how on earth are they going to be able to sit with that of their clients when at a growing edge???

Found a great quotation from Einstein.  ‘If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.’

Now, I don’t believe there’s one essential truth… Ian was outlining ‘the’ truth from his perspective.  And he wasn’t elegant.  He gave it straight from the shoulder.  He responded to comments and questions, however uncomfortable, very much in the moment, present, standing in his own ground, saying it how it was for him…

He was modelling authentic leadership, what I call Inner Leadership!… Being aware of the other person’s position and feelings, being aware of his own reactions, which he later used as teaching points, and choosing neither to be defiant or compliant about the criticism but to respond honestly in the moment as best he could.

What a fabulous, fabulous opportunity for learning!

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Leadership Gossip – What’s it hiding?

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

When you have nothing to say… say nothing!

Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m a little jaded with over a month of more than usual socialising and networking. From listening to buckets of small talk which has, at times, seemed very small to me.

Not that I need the lofty heights of academia or to debate the latest leadership theories at every opportunity but, pleeeeeez, … how can anyone in their right mind think the menu of their lavish dinner or latest challenging Atlantic flight are of any interest to me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that many people keep themself busy with gossip and lacklustre minutae as a distraction from focusing on things which really matter. What they lack in wit they make up for in volumous, stultifying garbage. And while they do…

They don’t have to face their lack of inner leadership, the personal or business relationship that’s falling apart, the difficulty they’re experiencing with their role, the lack of meaning and purpose they experience or that they’re as bored with themselves as I am with their conversation.

I wanted to yell, WAKE UP!  I was falling asleep too, being hypnotised into a coma where we could all pretend everything was alright when it wasn’t. Oh for some honesty, some transparency and authentic communication.

And, if I had yelled WAKE UP!, would I have been acting with integrity, just been downright rude or have defined myself socially as a lunatic?

Insanity here I come.

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Language of Leadership

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Words are symbols for the energy they carry.

Experiment with this…

Think of the word ‘anxious’ and say it over to yourself a few times in your mind.  Notice how you feel.  Wriggle your body a bit to get rid of that experience.  When you have, think of the word ‘peace’ or ‘love’ or ‘joy’ and say that one over and over a few times in your mind.  Notice how you feel now… and keep that experience.

Note to self: Remember at all times that the words I use are symbols for the energy they carry.

Remain mindful… From the boardroom to the bedroom, from the meeting to the marquee, from the networking event to the netball game, from the business dinner to the baby shower.

Anywhere everywhere at all times, the words I use are powerful symbols for the energy they carry… and the energy I convey!