Helping the Chronically Overworked Find Life Balance

Is a Scorpion At Work Evil, or Just Inflexible?

Chapter 4: Who To Trust At Work Part 8

Let me be clear about one thing: the Scorpion is not evil, just inflexible.  I use Scorpion as a description of a type of behavior to help me figure out a person’s motivation, and then to devise a strategy to deal with him or her.  A Scorpion is someone who believes something so strongly they can’t help but act in a certain way.  And once you understand that your co-worker is a Scorpion, it becomes relatively straightforward to predict how they will react to a situation.

Here, a Silicon Valley Vice President describes what I call a Scorpion:

“People get an evangelical zeal for the cause they are trying to support.  [They] almost won’t let anything get in their way and will steamroller people to drive for the particular thing they believe in.  When you get individuals like that, the battles get certainly very political and end up being very personal as a result, even though the individuals are often quite mild [outside of work].”

[For example,] “when I first got to know him{the CEO] in interviews and semi-socially, he could be a very genial, very humorous individual.  But then as you began to hold views that were different from his own about how the technology should evolve or [be] rolled out, he would pigeonhole you into being you’re either with him or against him.  You couldn’t disagree with him in any way.

Another VP describes the same CEO in a similar way.

“An innocuous statement suggesting another technology as a possible solution was taken like a ‘dagger to the heart.’  Moreover, if you presented market data that contradicted his vision for the next step in the technology, his answer was always ‘you don’t believe.’  That lets someone else step up and say ‘well I believe.’”

In the next post: how to deal with a Scorpion.

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  1. […] Vijay’s Dr. Scorpion believed that her collaboration with the academic was the key to success for the product.  Without regard for budget, regulations, or protocol, she made it happen.  When things started to go awry, Dr. Scorpion took a significant risk, a bluff that seemed to disregard potential consequences for herself or Vijay.  She could have taken a conciliatory tack, blaming the inventory issue on a misunderstanding or honest mistake. Of course this would have required that she admit that she made a mistake, something Scorpions are loth to do in part because they rarely, if ever, think they have made a mistake.  Instead, she gave dishonest answers and let Vijay take the consequences. <<Previous Post  Next Post>> […]

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