Can you spot the ‘Cain’ in your office?

by on
in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

“We use the names of the Old Testament characters Cain and Abel as a metaphor for the ongoing battle between cunning (Cain) and ability (Abel) in today’s workplace.”

 —Gerry Lange and Todd Domke, authors, Cain & Abel at Work (Broadway Books, 2001)

If you manage enough people, you’ll eventually see these two.

What do you do if a Cain unfairly tries to cast blame in your direction? Protect yourself by documenting your work and keeping time-sensitive records of what you’ve done. Even so, accept the unpleasant fact that a Cain will sometimes get away with it.

Also, send out a detailed progress report. Don’t whine or talk badly about Cain. Stick to verifiable facts.

Remember: You can’t beat a Cain at the blame game. But you can beat him at the respect and leadership game. Stand up for yourself when you’re right and take responsibility when things go wrong.

Abel thinks in terms of:

  • Problems facing the organization
  • Getting the job done
  • Teamwork
  • Loyalty to colleagues
  • Accountability
  • Competition
  • Corporate campaign goals
  • Respect for subordinates
  • Achievement

Cain thinks in terms of:

  • Problems facing him/threats to his position
  • Getting credit, title, status, perks
  • Power over others, turf
  • Subordinates' loyalty to him
  • Avoiding blame
  • Enemies
  • Personal promotion
  • Subservience
  • Prestige

Leave a Comment