Political animals come in many stripes

Pat is a political animal. He schmoozes with people above him and scorns those below him-unless of course they can be of use to him. Jackie takes a different approach. She figures if she can turn enough people against each other, she will come out on top. Her time is spent spreading nasty gossip and backstabbing anyone who isn't in the room. Pat and Jackie have one goal: looking out for number one.  

Office politics has gotten a bad name from these two and others like them, who use interpersonal relationships for their own gain-and at the expense of others. On the other hand, the positive political players understand the value of using informal information for the common good. They know that having technical expertise will create new ideas and knowing the politics can help get those ideas implemented.  

Chances are, you are the kind of person who strives to understand and work with the informal relationships in your organization. And you probably know someone like Pat or Jackie. But have you ever wondered if you were the only one who could see the stripes of these political animals? Do you secretly wish that they would be discovered for the phonies they really are?  

Let's poke some fun at the political animals we all love to hate:  

The schmooze hound. 
They spend their days kissing up to the top dogs instead of doing the work they brag about. Looking good is everything; expensive suits, the right country club, the right bark (but no bite). Meanwhile, unfinished pieces end up on your desk because you care enough about the end results to make sure that it's done right.

The glory gobbler.
These recognition thieves steal the credit of others and strut around as if they were the only ones doing any of the work. They don't have the word "we" in their vocabulary. They grab all the choice, visible projects and never find time to pitch in and do some of the dirty work.

The backstabbing boa constrictor.
These slinky creatures wrap you in the false security of compliments and smiles. Meanwhile, they are crushing your image and waiting to take your job down in one big bite.

The gossip fly.
Wherever there is a ripe story to spread, you can expect to see these people buzzing with excitement and anticipation. They seem to be able to smell foul situations before anyone else and take great pleasure in spreading bad news. When things are going too smoothly, they go searching for nasty things to land on. Some of these pests can do serious damage before you realize where the droning is coming from.

The name dropper hopper.
These toads are prince wannabes. These people pretend to be on a first name basis with every top executive and board member in town. They expect that just croaking out the name of some influential person will have a magical affect on their own image.

The spineless worm.
Yuck. They avoid the spotlight of new ideas and hide in safe ground. Their twists and turns are disgusting as they try to wriggle any way the people above them want them to bend. Talented employees who want to pursue new directions make them nervous so they try to keep these people hidden away in the dark. They won't defend their employees to others and crawl away from conflict.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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