Beware of Workplace Sirens

Photo by: Trevor Cole
Photo by: Trevor Cole

In Greek mythology, sirens are known to be dangerous creatures who lure sailors with enchanting songs to shipwreck on rocky coasts. Similar to Greek mythology, sirens exists in our daily lives, especially the workplace. We live in a world where personal brands can be developed and manipulated by both hard work and improper use of technology. Even more, the influence of professional trends and other initiatives have the ability to be shared and implemented at light speed, regardless of true interest by the individual. So often we look to social media and other outlets to see the champions of our industry. We admire, from afar, the way they present themselves, the way they speak, and their influence on things we are passionate about. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the wonderful people living their best life, there are pockets of workplace sirens that have an incredible influence on the organizational culture.

Please do not misinterpret my message by thinking that I believe that those who promote themselves and seek to expand their brand/message are all bad. It’s actually quite the opposite. I applaud those who are finding ways to use their gifts and talents to change the world one industry at a time. When I refer to workplace sirens, I speaking to the people who are wolves in sheep clothing. The individuals who either recognize and value their ability to tear others down because they view it as an exercise of authority, or they view their unkind actions as the behavior of a successful person. Ultimately, we’re talking about people whose actions don’t align with the things they say. Examples of these so-called workplace sirens may include:

  1. People who promote the empowerment and development of those around them, yet they distinctly tear people down without compassion or purpose.
  2. People who build their professional kingdoms on the hard work of others, but fail to genuinely recognize or acknowledge the effort of others.
  3. People who think of themselves first in every situation, without empathy or interest in the effect on others.
  4. People who develop extensive and powerful networks, but use these networks to purposefully create barriers for those they consider foes.

There are many other examples, but I mention these four because I believe they can be the most alluring to a professional genuinely seeking to better themselves. We utilize social media to seek and connect with others who we may never meet, but I encourage you to always consider the evidence of a person’s character, rather that relying solely on what  they share or express. Sometimes you’ll find that these people may model and demonstrate characteristics that hinder your development, rather than build them.

At this point, you’re probably wondering how do you avoid the siren song so that you don’t crash and burn? My advice to you is to keep your eyes and ears open, trust your intuition, and understand the dynamics of the game within your organization. There is no sure fire way to avoid the songs of the sirens, but if you remain true to yourself and strive to become the best version of yourself, you’ll find success. In fact, you will likely find that at some point you’ve been a siren too.



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