Are you a “Constant Chameleon”?

Constant ChameleonWe’ve already discussed the following career types:
– transatory+: Tireless Kangaroo
– transatory: Wandering Butterfly

In this post, we’ll discuss the Career Personality “spiral”. The definition:
Moves laterally every 5-10 years to related occupations (sometimes within the same company) where previous experience can be applied in new ways. They are motivated by:
– Personal growth
– Creativity
– Developing others
– Prestige
– Recognition

These factors mean that “constant chameleons” focus on (Source: M&A: Creating Integrative Knowledge by Amy L. Pablo, Mansour Javidan): applying existing competences in new areas, integrating new and existing operations, strategic renewal, long-term creative teamwork, personal growth.

In contrast to the Wandering Butterfly who changes to unrelated fields, the Constant Chameleon stays true to their color and builds upon their core. To give you a practical example: A marketing graduate works for 5 years in a Marketing Agency specializing in FMCG; then moves to the client’s side to become a Marketing Specialist expanding their knowledge to event management; After 7 years they are offered to join a construction company to be a marketing coordinator for marketing activities. And so on.

Another good example are Career Angels – to give you Aneta‘s examples: thanks to her almost 5-yr business experience, she was recruited to become an Executive Search Consultant building on her market knowledge and skills. After 5.5 years Aneta wanted to build upon her business and recruitment expertise and expanded into career advisory.

As all prior personalities so far, Constant Chameleons do not seek managerial positions and authority. They might be promoted due to their seniority, but at heart, they are chameleons.

We have asked Monika Budzyńska, Divisional Manager from Devonshire:
How often do you come across candidates who are good all-rounders in their field and who have been promoted due to their performance, but lack the managerial competencies? Do they realize that they are chameleons and not managers? How self-aware are those candidates?

That’s a very complex topic. I’ll answer that question under the following assumptions:
1) when I use the word manager, I mean people-manager and not project-manager
2) a “good” (people) manager is somebody who has the competencies of managing teams and enjoys it (mostly)

Looking at the managerial candidates that have crossed my desk, I’d cautiously say that they can be divided into three groups:
a) 15% are good, self-aware managers
b) 40% are “bosses”; professionals who have been promoted and have adapted to their new roles, but never really get the hang of it; however, they stay where they are for obvious reasons: remuneration & prestige.
c) 45% are “fake” managers

Before I elaborate, I’ll take a step back:

Every company and industry has different criteria for promoting their employees to managers. A promotion does not always correspond to actual skills, especially in result- or seniority-driven environments such as sales, recruitment, legal, finance-related, etc. I’d venture to say that it’s about 60-70% that end up as “bosses” or “fake” managers.

And by “fake” I mean those managers who
– lack people management skills
– are unaware of their own shortcomings
– believe that their promotion is due to their managerial competencies
sincerely trust they are good at what they are doing in terms of team management
– are usually quite good at selling themselves

In order to uncover who is who, it’s best to conduct an extended competency-based interview.

I asked Anna Zadrozna, one of our Career Angels, “What do you do when a client turns out to be a “fake manager” who expects a managerial CV and landing a managerial position successfully?”.

Anna, “To make a long story short: it is our responsibility to be truthful every step of the way. The moment we sense that one of our clients reaches for something unrealistic, we tell them. As Monika already mentioned, not everybody is able to objectively assess their skills and shortcomings.

I’ll share a real case with you. I had a client once. Let’s call him Marcus. A Sales Manager.

Marcus had been promoted – thanks to his results – from sales rep to sales manager to senior sales manager to regional sales manager without ever (!) managing a team. A recruitment company headhunted him and after several interview rounds and being assessed in an assessment center, he was offered – for some inexplicable reason – to be VP of a company. His contract was not extended after the 6-month trial period. A friend recommended us.

I met Marcus and asked, “What kind of a job are you looking for?” “CEO or Managing Director”, was his reply. I suggested he first looked for a Sales Manager / Director position where he could first of all manage a real team and THEN, but only then, start considering something else, assuming he’d find courses that compensated his lack of expertise in fields like Finance, etc. Marcus’ reaction, “But that would be a step back in my career.”

We then arranged a meeting with somebody who was where he wanted to be. It seemed that after that encounter he finally did realize he had shortcomings. We adjusted his job hunting strategy accordingly.”


Summarizing, at Career Angels probably only 1 in every 20 clients is unaware of the fact that they are “fake managers” or “paper managers”, i.e. they are managers only on paper. On their CV. But not in real life. Why the difference between Monika’s observation and ours? Somebody who wants to change their jobs and seeks professional support is usually very aware of what they need. Somebody who sends their CV to a headhunter or in response to a job ad… not necessarily.

If you are not sure how well you do against your peers, get in touch with us. We’d be happy to conduct an extended competency-based interview with you and share our objective feedback.

Email your CV to Sandra.Bichl (at), Subject: Competency-based Interview

—- update:
Read also:
Introduction to theory
Tireless Kangaroo
Wandering Butterfly
Constant Chameleon
Loyal Dog
Royal Lion
Busy Beaver
Lazy Sloth