Seth Kahan
Author, consultant

Seth Kahan

Change expert and author who has advised executives in 50-plus organizations, including Shell, World Bank, Peace Corps and NASA. He can be reached at


A tank's biggest shark

Question: Not everyone at Fox News is celebrating the success of the cable channel's fastest rising and most controversial star. Is internal sniping inevitable when someone in an organization suddenly attracts attention or wins acclaim? How much criticism or jealousy from colleagues typically accompanies success?

Answer: There once was a time when sharpened opinion was not the central force behind a major network. In an environment where neutrality is valued, loud-voiced criticism, jealousy and sniping are career-limiting moves. But, that is not the case for television networks today.

The networks are in deep yogurt - their media has been eclipsed by the Internet and their audiences are so fragmented as to make it difficult to actually claim a coherent constituency. When organizations are trapped and desperate they sometimes turn toward what can keep their bottom line from tanking. Fox is not alone.

Beck is in a league of his own and the environment of hostility that he thrives in is not typical of all organizational cultures. That said, he is suited to the world he is ascending within. Any celebrity who makes it in such a dog-eat-dog environment is probably thick-skinned to begin with, and that is a good thing for them.

Sniping and attacks need not be part and parcel of success. Just take a look around. Take the temperature of your environment. You can tell pretty fast what it's like when there is blood in the water. Do the sharks begin to circle? If so, you can expect what Beck has found. As long as you're the biggest fin in the pool, you're likely to do fine.

By Seth Kahan  |  March 21, 2010; 10:29 PM ET  | Category:  sniping Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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