Complement, Don’t Copy

April 10th, 2014   •   1 comment   

One of the biggest mistakes made today in business is that leaders and followers are all to anxious to copy and not complement.  The best compliment (yes, this is spelled with an “i” and  defined as praise or tribute to) we can offer to our company is perform in a manner that serves to complement (spelled this time with an “e” and defined as match, balance, pair).

4_9_2014_copyingIf we think we are complimenting the interviewer, boss or the board by copying mannerisms, ideas, actions, we are doing the business and leadership a serious disservice. The sad part is the interviewer, boss or board may believe that being copied is a tribute. It usually is, to one’s ego.

So, what happens when the person in authority chooses to use their authority to wield power and hire those best at copying them, their ideologies and behaviors? 

Here’s how copying “compliments” the organization:


  • support personal interests rather than the interests of the organization
  • play it safe
  • play follow-the-leader game really, well
  • limit creativity and innovation
  • fail to proactively make decisions and problem solve
  • deliver substandard performance
  • be miss-fit for/or in role
  • passive to change
  • lack accountability and commitment to the vision and mission
  • the work climate and environment are if not toxic, definitely not at peak performance

4_9_2014_complementThis list could go on, however, let’s focus differently and ask a more positive question.

What if the person  in authority, appreciates their power and wants individuals show up as a  complement to organization; to serve in roles that best fits their skills and talents and best serves the mission and objectives of the organization?

Here’s how complementing can “compliment” the organization…


  • are clear on expectations, because if they are not evident, they are comfortable enough to ask because communication is a two-way street
  • risk takers and proactively identify challenges and actively seek opportunities to change
  • innovation and creativity abound
  • professional growth and development are front and center
  • role fit is fostered and promotions from within are prevalent
  • support the culture with active participation and energetic, positive  decision making and problem solving.

There are many drawbacks to copying others. People hide their talent and their potential to be hired or to fit in, believing that it is better to mimic someone else, rather than be true to their own talents.  This certainly not a compliment to anyone and certainly not to the organization.

For organizations and individuals to be successful, it is imperative that we use our competencies and abilities to complement the organization.  To bring value upon hire and to continually add value which leads to sustainable growth and true partnering and engagement.

The benefits of using our role to complement the situation greatest compliment we can pay to our organizations.  Complement, don’t copy!


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One comment

  1. posted on Apr 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Great article and I see both types when I am out working with businesses. It takes courage to step into being uncomfortable, to share your talents and be the star performer you know you are. I’ve found when there’s a culture of copying because the manager or owner is on their ego trip, those under the thumb tend to either go with the flow, its easy, or act ugly when they want to step out or “complement” and find it almost impossible because that is not how its done here. When working with those who want to break free of this type of management, when we identify that’s “Not it” I ask them to press pause and get clear on the changes they wish to make before jumping ship. Take the time to determine their ideal position and company they wish to work for before updating the resume, before determining where to apply and when they do apply and ultimately interview to be prepared with pertinent questions to find out the management style. Once they do, then jump!

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