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  • Writer's pictureAdil Malia

'Seven Deadly Sins of Sinister Followers'

This morning I was reading an article on Linked in - 'Major Mistakes that Managers Make'. This post stirred thoughts which lead to me triggering this post - 'The Seven Deadly Sins of Sinister Subordinates'. I hope you like it.

If leaders and followers at the work place, all understood with clarity their roles and also reflected the copy-book positive characteristics that they are clinically expected to embody within themselves, life would not have been difficult. Reality however is that history, folklore and mythology all have their fair share of deviant characters who had contrarian characteristics, inadequate competencies and deviant behaviours. And this is what provided these storylines with an exciting twist in the theme, a challenge and thereafter, provided a set of lessons to learn from for future behaviours. Unfortunately, we heard the exciting stories but did not seem to learn transferable lessons.

Sinister subordinates in a team many times, debase the organisation and contribute to its destruction. This piece is therefore about the Seven Deadly Sins of Sinister Subordinates.

Firstly, to clarify. Ambition is very good. Over Ambition is bad. Also Over-Ambition (OA) actually has reference to situation where capabilities and readiness do not match the high aspirations. When unmatched with readiness or capabilities, aspiration is the womb where OA is nurtured.

Empires in history and mythology are replete with plots and conspiracies which deal with sinister Palace Intrigues. Glib talkers with pretended spiritual duplicity have always won initially the Confidence of immediate powers that be. Slowly they grow under patronage of that leader. When the plot finally unravels, it is found that behind the fall of that leader lay the sinister conspiracy of the Subordinate that the leader was actually developing and tu Brutus.

A sinister subordinate is a confidence trickster. He first wins the leader's confidence and then at the right time, misuses the relationship at the least expected time and usurps power to his advantage.

Without fail, a Sinister Subordinate (SS) commits a trail of these Seven therefore on a look-out, dear trusting leader.

  1. The First Sin : You will hear Rumours and Gossips attacking your character behind your back, which will be based on your personal information back home. A 'SS' being a confidante, will first gain access to your personal information, directly or thru other sources or paid/unpaid agencies. Then for his advantage, he would trade that information with the leader's detractors or share the broadcast conveniently with the generally wagging tongues. Of course, he will create a veil of disguise to ensure that the leak does not track back to him.

  2. The Second Sin : Duplicity of stance. The SS does not have a firm view . To be able to gain a two-way advantage, he runs with the hares and hunts with the hounds. He will induce you into believing he supports your stance and in the evening at the pub with his colleagues, insites them into believing exactly otherwise. He convinces them that being under a power structure, he is unable to stand up to his leader. He thus systematically sows the seeds and insites rebellion.

  3. The Third Sin : An empowering leader, with an intention to develop allows his subordinate to contact higher bosses including his own Manager, on work related matters. A Sinister Subordinates misuses the situation. He tries to bypass the leader slowly and regularly by directly approaching the higher powers and attempts to build a skip level escalator to blind-sight the leader.

  4. The Fourth Sin : Leader will suddenly find that most confidential information of his team is in the knowledge of the vested parties who should not have it. Sometimes, it is open corridor knowledge. Start evaluating sources but do not avoid investigating the likely SS...often times one may find their dirty hands in the information till, leaks and scams.

  5. The Fifth Sin : The Sinister Sub-ordinate tries to creates doubts in the general system around your knowledge and competencies. He particularly tries to passes on such impressions to the leader's Manager with whom he has gained access through the non-suspecting and empowering leader. 'He is Incompetent - I am Competent' is his game.

  6. The Sixth Sin : Misuses Empowerment by bestowing out-of-line favours to the ones he identifies as powerful influencers in the system. He thus influences negative opinions and consolidates forces against the leader.

  7. The Seventh Sin : Leaks information to media to cause embarrassment as also Disseminates misinformation to other external stakeholders to build his own self brand and demolish the leader's brand. "I am the one who actually runs the system. He is only a figurehead, he falsely projects."

A weak boss and a 'SS' is the dream run to the victory post that the 'SS' is looking out for.

An Ambitious boss and a 'SS' may be able to work together for a while as the boss would be wanting to move upwards too and may encourage the SS to take his place so that he could be released faster.

A Weak boss and an unambitious Subordinate, is ripe for change of overall leadership anyways in the department.

But it is the 'Strong Boss - Sinister Subordinate' combination which creates fireworks. Sparks and storms are normal. On a boat every one pulls with the call of the 'hulls-man'. You are either pulling along or you are rocking the boat. A sinister subordinate is rocking the boat because he believes he is the hulls-man and not the leader.

My advise, a 'SS' needs to be abandoned and tossed into the sea with a note around his neck that says : 'TOUCH HIM NOT ' !!! No other leader deserves him.

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