The Tragic Life of a Sycophant

The Tragic Life of a SychophantThere are many ways to advance a career. One of the not so savory ways that someone may try to get ahead is by being a sycophant (aka brown noser, yes man, butt kisser, suck up, lackey, as well as some of the other more colorful synonyms).

This may seem like an ideal situation at first: the person in authority has a penchant for surrounding him/herself with people who will agree with everything, and the employees quickly learn that they get rewarded when they rubber stamp the boss. Sounds easy enough — just do as you are told, and everything will fall into place.

Right?

Well, let’s take a look at this a little more.

1. The butt-kissing never stops. The early days of sucking up may not seem so bad. In the newness of a position, almost anything is tolerable. But think about how you may feel six months, a year, five years down the line. And if you don’t really like the person? Even three months can seem like an eternity. You may think, “I’ll only have to do this for a while until I’ve gained the boss’s trust, and then I’ll get in a position where I can do what I want!” Really now, once you start being under the thumb of someone, will it ever end? Not likely.

2. The requests get more outlandish.
Once your boss knows that you are willing to be jerked around like a puppet, they push the limits to see how far you will go with it. It just gets more painful as time goes on…

3. Something goes horribly wrong. Guess who is going to get blamed? This isn’t an “if” scenario, this is a “when” because there is no such thing as perfection. And you have to know that your boss isn’t going to accept any responsibility for what happened.

4. You don’t have a strong identity or a network. It’s all tied to the person in authority. After all, you’re not doing anything except what you are told, so you’re not really adding value with your work. As long as you are happy with the status quo and nothing changes, you can get by. The problem is, the one constant in this world is change. Is it realistic to expect everything to stay as it is?

5. You may get an original (i.e. good) idea that clashes with established thinking. This may be the hardest part about choosing this path to further your career. There can be no dissent, no discussion. You just shut off your mind and do as you are told. Originality is not permitted for sycophants.

What method have you used to advance your career? Have you ever had to resort to rubber stamping the boss to get by?

Image courtesy of Grace

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Comments

  1. But, isn’t that what what people are being told to become now in order to get a job? Sycophants used to be mocked and were the butt of jokes. Yet, now in order to get a job or get ahead in a job people are being told in a round about way to become sycophants. the terminology may have changed, but it’s same behavior.

  2. Melissa Cooley
    Twitter: TheJobQuest
    says:

    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for commenting!

    When I looked up the definition of “sycophant” on dictionary.com, this was what it said: “1. a self-seeking, servile flatterer; fawning parasite” — not exactly something I would encourage folks to aspire to. Someone like that would likely be the butt of jokes, too.

    While there are aspects of playing the game at some points in a career, reaching sycophantic heights in the game-playing could backfire. I personally would advocate for being a resource to others, and letting your talent and originality shine through to advance a career.

    Melissa

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