The Secret to Defeating Manipulators


Don’t get played.

Cowards, manipulators, and backstabbers encourage you to take risks so they don’t have to. They posture in shadows. Let others get dirty. They step into the light when it’s safe.

Leading requires risk-taking. Don’t lead if you can’t take responsibility. Backstabbers and players, on the other hand, manipulate leaders. They want benefit while others take risks.

Players and manipulators always drive toward self-interest, secretly. Even when making others look bad, its to strengthen their own position.

Exposing manipulative players:

Ask ten questions to see if you’re being played.

  1. Are you being asked to keep secrets?
  2. Is someone creating paranoia and weakening relationships?
  3. Has someone whispered negative information about another in your ear?
  4. Who’s in the loop? Who’s left out?
  5. Whose life gets easier? Whose gets harder?
  6. Why is it important for you to take the lead, rather than someone else?
  7. Who looks good if it works?
  8. Who takes the fall if it fails?
  9. How is the team impacted?
  10. Are you functioning within organizational values?

Bonus: Who’s doing the work? Manipulators maneuver others into doing most of the work.

Defeating manipulative players:

All organizations have players and backstabbers who place self-interest ahead of all other interests. They thrive in silence and secrecy.

Silence implies permission.

Secrets strengthen manipulators.

Openness and transparency defeat manipulative players. Don’t attack them. Don’t play their games. Open the shades. Turn on the lights. Watch them fall in line or scurry like cockroaches.

Performance wins when everything’s on the table.

Transparency defeats manipulators.

When you smell the stench of manipulation, invite all stakeholders to a meeting that spells out all deliverables, responsibilities, deadlines, and communication channels. Don’t waste time attacking manipulators. It’s a distraction. Create high performance cultures with transparency.

How can leaders lessen the power of manipulators?