In My Own Image


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People of all ages in business make the mistake of seeing the whole of their world in a mirror image of their own reflection. In all cases this level of ego has more disadvantages than it has advantages. They disrupt teams or prevent teams from forming. A brief description of my top five observations of people exhibiting this characteristic are:

  1. The Sales Gun
  2. This is the sales person in retail or commercial sales who has a successful method that works for them. They regularly win sales awards. They regularly exceed target. They are great rapport builders and/or great closers of a sale. Their methods at times may sail close to the limit of what the organisation wants to represent their values. However, they get the sale.

    They don't know too much about the organisation's products. They have been tried as a sales manager but it was not for them. They have tried to coach junior sales people but only those people who think like them seem to be able to learn from them.

    The sales gun as described above has a narrow focus around what has always worked for them. New ideas are to be treated in a satirical fashion or ignored.

    Their inability to assimilate new ideas may be acceptable if life is not changing. They resist change. In any organisation undergoing significant change, the sales gun described as above is usually a casualty. That is because they are afraid to move out of their comfort zone.

  3. The Autocratic Manager
  4. What they say goes. To the point of what they say but not necessarily what they do. If it is a marketing campaign we are testing the only opinion that counts is their opinion. It does not matter that they are not typical of the target market. They will determine what advertising will work.

    If they are an operational manager, only their experiences of people count. Only their experience of technology counts, even if it is outdated. Only their experiences of distributor characteristics and behaviour count. Only their experiences of the market count.

    Managers like these can be successful for a period of time. However, life and the business, at some stage, pass them by. But not before they frustrate the talent coming through the organisation into leaving for another division or another organisation. Not before they reduce the initiative shown by individuals to rubble. Not before they make errors which they typically assign responsibility for to someone else.

  5. Everybody's Friend
  6. Their key, and perhaps only, skill is to build rapport. They influence other people to see their point of view. They see rapport building as more important than critical reasoning and understanding their target markets. They see rapport building as more important than understanding the cost and success drivers of the organisation.

    Their success is built around being liked. Their field of view is that limited by a mirror. When they are not liked they see that as a failure. Even in positions of power when they have the ability to push through an unpopular initiative that is right for the time, they refrain from doing so because of the impact on their relationships.

    They are accommodators and manipulators. They are good for the social fabric of the organisation but not for its longevity.

  7. The Poor Questioner and Listener
  8. They hear the first two to three sentences before beginning to formulate a statement about the topic of conversation. The statement may be a personal anecdote. Or it may be a reinforcement of the first few sentences uttered by the speaker. The statement may be a rebuttal. The words forming in their mind may be one of many kinds of statements but is never a question.

    Never an open question asked to elicit information. Nor even a closed question to seek confirmation of what they heard.

    They, therefore, go off on a tangent, interpreting the words they did manage to hear using only their mental dictionary. What they do hear they filter based on their upbringing, mood and thinking styles. However, they are not deterred by not actually knowing what was said in getting their own view across.

    The liking for the sound of their own voice knows no bounds. These characters have not only a detrimental impact on the relationship with the individuals they deal with, but a detrimental impact on productivity. For example, projects are subject to the meandering of poor communication skills, becoming inefficient and ineffective.

  9. The Joker
  10. Everything that can be said or written is subject to a satirical or ironic line. Not a few one liners to break up a serious meeting, but a string of one-liners during the whole meeting. Every announcement is a comedy subject. Every training session is a time to giggle.

    These disrupting, attention seeking misfits are better off trying for a stand up spot at the local comedy club than a professional role in an organisation. The issue is not that they use humour. It is that they always use humour, with everything that is done or said fair game for a comment. So much so that one wonders if they have ever had time to think about a subject.

People who prevent teams from forming or disrupt existing teams are a large mitigator of productivity and morale. They should be given ultimatums to change their behaviour or leave.

Kevin Dwyer is the founder of Change Factory. Change Factory helps organisations who do do not like their business outcomes to get better outcomes by changing people's behaviour. Businesses we help have greater clarity of purpose and ability to achieve their desired business outcomes. To learn more or see more articles visit or email kevin. au ©2007 Change Factory


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