8 Types Who Advance Their Careers On the Backs of Others

Reflections-Jane-Andersonby Jane Anderson, Featured Contributor

Editor’s Note: This is adapted from Follow Your Conscience: Make a Difference in Your Life & in the Lives of Others By Frank Sonnenberg © 2014 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.

DESPITE THE FACT that the majority of people play by the rules and try to do the right thing, there are a number of bad actors in every organization who have no problem advancing their careers on the backs of others. Here are some you may recognize:

Emperors. These people climb the corporate ladder by capitalizing on who they know and where they’ve been, rather than on what they’re contributing today. They may have friends in high places, have their walls filled with diplomas, or have previously worked for a blue-chip company. They’re like an oasis. They may look wonderful from a distance, but the closer you get, the more obvious it becomes that it’s all just a mirage. In this case, emperors truly have no clothes.

Pretty Boys (or Girls). These people really look the part. They are the trendiest dressers, belong to the finest country clubs, and look like they could be on the cover of Vogue or GQ. Similar to Emperors, the Pretty set rise up the corporate ladder based on appearance rather than performance. But their veneer is thin, and when the spotlight gets too bright, you can begin to see right through them. In this case, you shouldn’t judge a book simply by its cover.

puzzle-perspectives-brainA–Kissers. These people spend all their time fawning over their superiors. You need to reduce costs? No problem. We just won’t give people raises this year. (Too bad there’s only enough for management.) These A– Kissers spend 99.9 percent of their time in closed-door management meetings with little time to provide direction for their own team — regardless of the impact that it has on results. In this case, it’s only a matter of time before their people say “ENOUGH!” and tell THEM to kiss off.

Delegators. They say there are only two kinds of people, those who are willing to work and those who are willing to let them. These counterfeit superstars are in the latter group. They have the power to say: “You want something done? No problem. In fact, rather than get it to you by Friday, how about tomorrow morning?” Then they get their staff to stay late while they walk out the door at 5 p.m. These people always volunteer for more work; are calm, cool, and collected; and have the cleanest desks in the office. How is that possible? It’s because they delegate everything! In this case, the only thing that stops at their desk is the credit they don’t deserve, not the work.

Schmoozers. These folks could win an award for Mr. or Ms. Congeniality. Everybody loves them. Schmoozers know all the ballgame stats; they know how to tell a joke; and they’re up-to-date on the inside dirt. Their colleagues like them so much that they don’t mind taking on their workload while the schmoozer is entertaining clients elsewhere. In this case, work is a party for schmoozers.

Bystanders. These slouches do just enough to get by. They’ve been with the organization for a zillion years, rarely speak up, never make waves, and would make themselves invisible if they could. They spend their day moving piles of paper on their desk while they watch everyone else go crazy trying to get the job done. In fact, when they’re out on vacation, nobody even knows they’re missing. In this case, the last survivors on Earth, along with cockroaches, will be the bystanders.

Scavengers. These are the types who take the credit for everybody else’s work. They surround themselves with wonderful, talented people and spend the day determining if there’s an idea worth stealing and fine-tuning their personal PR machine. In this case, they’ll continue to rise up the company ranks as long as their “credit” remains good.

Busybodies. These individuals spend their whole day trying to prove how busy they are — rather than getting anything done. Whenever they’re asked to do something, they spend twenty minutes describing how much work they have on their plate. In this case, if busybodies ever needed a role model, they could look to a turnstile — it’s out in front, goes around in circles, creates wind, but never gets anywhere.

Any of these personality types sound familiar?

This is adapted from Follow Your Conscience: Make a Difference in Your Life & in the Lives of Others By Frank Sonnenberg © 2014 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.


Jane Anderson
Jane Anderson
JANE’s professional experience is scattered across industries from financial services and insurance to engineering and manufacturing. Jane sees her background in writing and editing website content as the foundation to her current love of social media. Being an avid reader, meticulous note taker and lifelong learner has fostered her natural pursuit of sharing her world through writing. Reading books and summarizing content started as a hobby and has since grown to be a major part of her vocational experience. Jane says, “Authors pour their heart and soul into writing their book. When I write a review, it’s with intent to celebrate the book and promote the author.” Jane claims to be 'the best follower you'll ever want to meet' and has been repeatedly called servant leader, eternal cheerleader, social media evangelist, and inspirational go-to person. Jane is a contributing author to the inspiring book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

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  1. Hello Jane, thanks for the article.

    The 8 types of people can be reduced to two types of employees.

    Type 1. Employees who make good decisions.
    Type 2. Employees who make bad decisions.

    If Type 1 employees get promoted, then someone above them made good decisions.
    If Type 1 employees don’t get promoted, then someone above them made bad decisions.

    If Type 2 employees don’t get promoted, then someone above them made good decisions.
    If Type 2 employees get promoted, then someone above them made bad decisions.

    The problem is not who gets promoted but rather who decides who gets promoted.

    • Hi Robert, I can see how this works. Years in corporate America has taught me these same lessons about promotions. Fortunately, I was never interested in being promoted. I just wanted to make good decisions and be discerning in them.