I have always been astounded, amazed, surprise, awed (ok... enough...) by how much people would push the envelope to get ahead in the corporate race.
Seth Godin writes about arrogance masking reality in the corporate world. And I couldn't agree more.
Somewhere along the way, we confused the signals with the work. Now there are people who start with the bad behavior and the affectations, hoping that it will be seen as a sign of insight and talent. And they often get away with it. "Who's that?" we wonder... "I don't know, but they must be good at what they do, because why else would we put up with them?" It's a great plan when it works, but I don't think it's a strategy to be counted on.
Call it confirmation bias. Or some other form of cognitive bias.
Or simply attribute it to our humanity that seeks to find the good in people and forgo their shortcomings and ineptitude.
From my vantage point, however, it's all about smokes and mirrors, low signal-to-noise ratios, creation and maintenance of illusory skills and achievements even when faced by threats of being found wanting.
Godin writes further:
The key to getting a reputation for being brilliant is actually being brilliant, not just acting like you are.
If only it were that easy.
Sometimes, the reputation of being brilliant is not enough particularly in a corporate scenario where low signal-to-noise ratios and smokes-and-mirrors are upheld, rather than good, remarkable, and excellent work.
I think in spite of the changes that have occurred or occurring in the corporate world - and the demand for people to be linchpins and to be investors in "emotional work" rather than simply "showing up for time and the attendance sheet", there will always be companies - regardless of how much they extol the virtues of innovation and "challenge the status quo" - that are deeply mired in smokes-and-mirrors.