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Kipper Management


Disciplines > Leadership > Leadership articles > Kipper Management

Description | Why it happens | What to do about it | See also



Fish might unfairly be accused of being two-faced, as you only get to see one side at once. This principle is also applicable to the two-faced manager who has different faces and styles depending on the situation.

When they are with more senior managers they are typically model employees, putting business first and themselves last. Yet with their subordinates, the reverse is often true, with the individuals carrying the can for both pulling out the stops to get things done in time and then blame when things go wrong through no fault of their own.

The kipper will change with the wind as the need arises. They are chums when things need doing and backstabbers when there is glory or reward to be gained. The kipper's hero is probably Machiavelli. 

Why it happens

The key reason why the kipper is so two-faced (or many-faced) is that their values with regard to integrity are largely non-existent. They literally see nothing wrong in acting differently with different people and may even be proud of their ability to act differently in different situations, calling it something like 'style flexibility'.

Historically, the kipper may have been taught that 'this is how it works'. They may also have a deeper background where trust was low and abusive relationships common.

What to do about it

Make sure you always have something that the kipper needs. This will keep their kinder face towards you.

If the kipper regularly turns their bad face on you, consider fighting fire with fire and standing up to them. Many kippers will turn a kinder face to those who are not easily cowed. Also consider taking the matter further, particularly if you can show the kipper is seriously breaking company values.

Kippers are natural cowards and admire power. They are hence susceptible to blackmail, although this is seldom a good approach. If, however, they know that you know something that they do not want others to know, no words may be necessary and they may treat you much better.

If you are a more senior manager and suspect you have a kipper in your ranks, get 360 degree views on them from different people. The kipper may also happily betray themselves in boasts of what and how they got people to do things for them.

See also

Values, Trust

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