Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Energy Consumers: Beware the Office Vampire

I am a big believer that having a firm command of your own physical, intellectual and emotional energy is imperative for everyone’s success.  As a leader, you need to make certain your team has positive emotional energy.  With that in mind, I thought I would share something interesting from April 9th’s Chicago Tribune.  I read Rex Huppke’s always amusing column “I Just Work Here”.  The column’s focus is the book Emotional Vampires by Al Bernstein, a Portland, Oregon-based clinical psychologist.  The book came out in 2000, but it is timeless – just like vampires. 

The premise of the book is there are people in the workplace whose actions and emotions suck the life out of fellow workers.  Instead of creating emotional energy, they are voracious consumers of it.  Bernstein sorts them into the following “vampire” types:

  •  Anti-social vampires:  the rules are for suckers (no pun intended), not them.
  •  Histrionic vampires:  no amount of unnecessary drama is too much.
  •  Narcissistic vampires:  it is all about them, even when it is not.
  •  Obsessive-compulsive vampires:  perfectionist who cannot see the forest for the trees.
  •  Paranoid vampires:  positive they are right and everyone else is wrong.
These archetypes are exaggerations to make a point.  However, the negative effect they can have is not exaggerated at all.  Al Bernstein provides an “antidote” for each, but these are to be used by co-workers.  As the leader, your role is different. 

You need to maintain your leadership brand.  It must be consistent.  Your role is to keep returning everyone’s focus to the goal in a way that energizes you and the team.  To this end, be sure to praise in public and critique in private—it keeps the team cohesive.

I will be covering Team Dynamics more in the coming blogs.  Watch this space.