BLG Leadership Insights Features

When Does the 800 lbs Gorilla Swat A Fly?

Sometimes leadership is about knowing when to act and when not to act. Senior leaders can always scare the stuffing out of anyone. They can scream and rant and exercise their power–but power is sometimes exercised when held in abeyance. Using power is, on a certain level, to lose it or it makes it clear to others what the parameters of your power are. So in a workplace environment—be careful. Don’t flex your organizational biceps right away. It might be better to sink in your chair, look attentive, and be passive.

The old, I-don’t-know-what’s-going-on-here, routine goes over quite well. A little bit of the dumbfounded, awkward, style mixed with a touch of bewilderment is always a bit disarming.

But for those of you who are old enough to remember–Yogi Bear was still a bear. That stupid hat, the ‘Hey Boo-Boo‘ terms of endearment were a bit of a veneer.

A friend of mind learned this the hard way.

He was attacked one night by a member of Yogi’s family in Yellowstone. Somehow he confused reality with cartoons. He assumed that because the bear was related to Yogi he could just hand her a “pic-a-nic” basket and send her on her way.

A number of stitches later–the lesson was learned.

So what’s the point?

In the workplace leading, powerful figures may appear to us as endearing bears or 800 pound sleeping gorillas who’s stomach we can gently tickle, but doing so is a mistake.

Real leaders know when to act and when not to act. They are still people with power, they still have the recourse, and while you, as a fly, may think you are the best friend–remember they can bite.

In fact, what they know quite well is how and when to swat a fly and they’ll do when you think your the safest–right when your comfortable, sitting on their nose, thinking you’ve made it.

Picture Credit: L. Marie