15 December 2009

Sycophancy Towards Power

Ken McDonald, former Director of Public Prosecutions, has shared his thoughts with us regarding the Chilcot inquiry and Tony Blair in an article in The Times, "Intoxicated by power, Blair tricked us into war."

The well written prose is certainly worth reading.

But what is of interest to me is the expression, sycophancy towards power, found in the article.

Interesting because I've met a number of people who have this flaw but I haven't known quite how to articulate it.

I haven't seen this behaviour in a political environment for lack of experience of such; however, I have often seen it in a corporate environment.

Management meetings have been chaired by someone fairly low in the hierarchy at which opinions have been expressed. However, if the process is repeated with a different chair person who is higher in the corporate structure, the previously expressed opinions cannot be relied upon. In these situations some people express a view that is sycophantic toward the chair. The previously expressed opinions are quickly jettisioned in favour of one more conducive to the chair. It's a pernicious form of 'yes-man' behaviour; but worse, since it lacks the transparency of 'yes-man' behaviour.

What's worse, I've also seen this sort of thing in meetings with customers. Not from the customers but towards the customers.

All very strange.


  1. In the lexicon of Modern Management Speak this is known as "arse licking".

  2. Perhaps that was why I was lost for words!