There’s a particular employee persona that I believe poses one of the greatest threats to innovation. These employees are eloquent and persuasive, but if you pay attention long enough, you’ll notice a lack of depth or substance. They are the smooth talkers, whose delivery style is designed to mask the void of meaningful content. These individuals have fallen victim to “empty suit” syndrome.
Empty suits often excel in the art of buzzwords, appear easy-going, and can navigate organizational politics with superhero levels of adeptness. However, beneath this is a lack of knowledge, experiential insights, and often, any genuine motivation to drive organizational growth.
We find ourselves bewitched by these individuals because they’re able to articulate ideas with precision and charm. We mistake eloquence for expertise.
Empty suits are dangerous because their influence can lead to misguided decisions and misaligned strategies. Decision-making processes are impacted which leads to confusion and takes orgs down paths that are unsustainable or worse, detrimental.
The Way Forward
We counter by appraising ideas not for their glittering delivery but for the substance that lies within, and as we journey from superficiality to substance, innovation emerges organically because the environment supports growth and development, not stagnant conformity to half-baked strategies and initiatives.
Skill-based hiring is also vital in countering “empty suit” syndrome because it dials down the noise of alluring presentations while amplifying competence and tangible skills. Candidates are thoroughly evaluated, and employees are armed with the right skills, knowledge, and motivation.