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Lead Or Someone Else Will

October 25, 2017

Ren was a nice guy. Ren was my manager. Correction, Ren was our manager. Jim was on our team as well. I had seniority over Jim, although at Microsoft, that didn’t count for a lot. In fact, I had interviewed Jim. He’d written some books. We were a training group. Seemed like a match made in Redmond.

I probably shouldn’t have interviewed and offered Jim the job over the phone. In hindsight, that was a mistake. Tom, the other person on our team, did interview Jim in person and didn’t want to hire him. I’m still not sure why we hired Jim, except that he was a great talker.

At the time, Staci was the manager. Staci and I got along great. Staci agreed we should hire Jim, but it was really my decision.

Eventually Staci left Microsoft and Ren became our manager. Ren’s biggest goal in life was to avoid conflict. Jim realized this immediately and went to work on him day 1. Jim had tried to influence Staci, but it didn’t work. Staci had come from another company where she was a senior director over an entire department. She wasn’t going to be bullied, or BS’d by Jim.

Ren was different. Ren liked everyone to get along. That suited Jim just fine. Before long, Jim is giving team briefings to upper management. Sure, it was Ren’s team, but Jim was just helping out. And during those briefings, Jim was provided information to share with the team. Information is power. Jim understood this concept. In fact, he was counting on it.

Soon, everyone, including Ren was going to Jim for updates. It was a small step from there to Jim actually making decisions and recommendations. One of them was that Rodney was a bit high maintenance and the department really needed to keep him on a tight lease.

Being the conduit for information, Jim was also in a perfect position to poach good ideas and claim them as his own and saddle others with bad ideas or results.

Throughout all of this we, the other members of the team, kept going to Ren for some help in controlling Jim. But, Ren was mostly interested in everyone getting along. If people complained, that disrupted Ren’s day. And Jim helpfully pointed out that the complainers were kind of high maintenance.

Eventually our department got reorganized and we all went our separate ways. I still see Jim occasionally on LinkedIn or Twitter. It’s easy to resist any urge to connect with him.

If you are the leader of your team, you must lead them. If you don’t, someone like Jim will be more than happy to fill in for you.

*Some of the names changed

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2017 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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