JournalismPakistan.com December 6, 2014
Sycophancy actually has classic Greek antecedents which makes sense because it is a classic act. The first sycophants were those who reported to the courts in ancient Greece about who was doing what to whom largely without proof… nothing much has changed since then and our army of lickspittles and belly crawlers have refined it to a science and an art.
In fact, with this capability being of the essence for survival, it is pretty much on the cards that one day very soon it will be a post graduate course in a good university. You see, sycophancy or toadying up to the boss is a highly functional option to hard work and industry because bosses love it. Endless flattery to keep the ego swollen, gales of laughter to accompany frightful jokes, sprays of praise drenching the CEO, the more blatant the better. Even the bosses who pretend to have the intellect to ’see through it’ enjoy the fantail of fawning Uriah Heeps who act as a backdrop for them. And it is not just about politicians, it is across the board.
Having done much research on this cadre and the potential it has for success, promotion and tangible perks, I have divided the tribe into five categories which you may recognize or actually belong to without realizing it.
The office butt kisser
He is unctuous, cloying in his shameless praise of the superior’s ideas, always grovelling and nodding his head in premature agreement, willingly rendering space, scuttling about doing the big man’s bidding, and bowing and scraping like a windshield wiper, all of it wrapped up in servile body language and that throat catching gasp of awe in his voice: sshh, the CEO is on his way. Like Thor was coming down from Olympus.
The great politician and pretender
He spends his life networking and, like a crazed bee, flitting from flower to flower picking up pollen laced with malice. Dangerous to those who cross him. His only aim is to have the chief’s ear and retain it. This he manages by snitching, sneaking, backstabbing and other such genial exercises camouflaged with a thin patina of friendliness as he shoves the knife in. For some reason the top bosses depend on him for the dirt that shores up their inherent insecurity so he becomes indispensable.
The errand boy
He manipulates the boss through the family. Sir I brought five kilos of rice from our own farm. Pedas from Mathura. Fresh gur from his uncle’s factory. Does madam’s shopping. Takes the kids for tennis. Drops visiting relatives to the airport, takes them sightseeing. Fetch and carry, a sort of ADC cum flunky who then wins back favors by making the cut every time there is the 5 o’clock HR letter moment. He is just too vital to the boss’s comfort zone to be sacked. Ergo, he crawls up the ladder.
The untiring over-worker
This is the cleverest guy of the lot. He creates this great charade doing nothing. Comes early, goes late, attends office on Sundays and holidays, makes sure the boss does see him grinding away, writes copycat reports, creates power points and spiral bound idiot scenarios with equal dexterity to show he is a company man but the moment there is real tasking he falls sick or passes the hot little buck down the line.
The professional apple polisher
Slick as hair gel. Smart but lazy, he uses guile and style and smoke and mirrors to conceal his major flaw… complete lack of talent. Dresses like the boss, takes up golf if the chief plays golf, bridge if that’s his game, learns to lose deliberately, goes to the right places, power dresses, acts and plays the role and becomes a sort of dressed up lackey whose presence pleases the top guy. Until the falling at your feet, Sir, is just his way of pulling the rug because you have outlived your usefulness and there is a new boss on the way. Then our friend will be at the airport with a bouquet to receive him.
(The writer is a Senior Editorial Advisor of Khaleej Times and the paper’s former Editor. He has also been the Editor of Gulf News, Gulf Today, Emirates Today and Bahrain Tribune)
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