When I took the responsibility of HR function in my earlier organization, one person entered into my office. He started, “Great, you join here. You are the only person who can bring the change in this organization.” I surprised to learn my influencing power. I though, oh I am so famous in this world that this guy knows about me and is so confident about me?
After few days, lot of people visited me and the interaction was moreover same. Everybody was signing in same tune. Then I realized that those people were not my well wishers, they had their own agenda and definitely those people were not productive in the organization. Those all were cheerleaders. These cheerleaders know everything about you, your likes, dislikes, your habits, everything about you. They will not forget to wish you everyday and praise your shirt and your style. They will laugh on your poor jokes and also praise you always in public and private. They will appreciate your sense of humour and also they will give you the gift if they receive increment.
You can find the breed of cheerleaders everywhere. They will always appreciate you. They will never speak about their goals, objectives and results. They are the first who smell the change in authority and power in organization and you will not surprise to know that the person appreciating you yesterday will speak against you today.
As a leader/manager, you should be always aware and careful of this breed. If you are surrounded by such people you will never know the reality.
One of my senior in my earlier organization was always surrounded by such guys. He was working in the organization for more than 20 years and he himself perceived that he is expert in everything. It was his luck that he was there for so many years without any professional qualities. The only suitable profession for him was a teacher in philosophy or history classes. He used to give the example of history of the organization always.
Once I was travelling with him and he was sharing his experiences, how the people in organization respect (!) him. The examples were of typical cheerleaders who were always in touch with this guy. They were communicating everything to him like if somebody buys the cell phone, they use to give him a call, like, I just bought new cell phone, I though to speak with you first from this new cell etc etc.
Most of the cheerleaders managed to get good positions and salary raise in his regime. However they were not the right fit. After few days, recession started and business started to collapse. If everything is good nobody will ask you, but when business gets affected, then everybody questions you. At the end of the day, he was given the responsibility of another function which had no existence in the organization and was created to accommodate him.
This person was put aside by the organization; nobody was willing to see him. The dimensions changed, the trust also changed. Once his office was full with cheerleaders, people were waiting outside his office only to say, hi and hallo to him. When he was nobody, he had only designation, nobody was in his office. The tragedy was he uses to call the people and speak with them.
Identify the cheerleaders, make their list and be aware. Most of the cheerleaders are non productive. They should be managed properly.
PS: After writing this article, I heard the news that the above person has taken an early retirement. It is a still question whether it is retirement or forced retirement. However people celebrated his exit and cheerleaders also participated in celebrations.