Never Call EVA BRAUN Ugly!

The catchy line jumped up off the magazine page I was reading on an airplane recently.

Don’t ever call Evan Braun ugly!

What the writer declared was that anyone who dared call “unattractive” the admired blonde mistress of Adolph Hitler, the führer of Nazi Germany’s Third Reich, was doing so at his or her own peril. Eva was somewhat homely and plain. But she also maintained both the access to and devotion of someone perched at the top of the pyramid; her boyfriend possessed absolute power.

Only a reckless fool would state what was certainly obvious to most everyone in Hitler’s inner circle. Telling Adolph his girlfriend resembled an unpealed Bavarian potato would have been a death sentence. A snap of Hitler’s fingers, and you were banished.

There’s a lesson here.

In many organizations you might work with a person (male or female) placed very high up in the hierarchy who lacks talent, wisdom and management skills – one who walks the corridors and sits in the conference room exuding power but who is, underneath, terribly insecure. Beware if they have the ear of the Chairman, CEO, President & Founder…or Pastor. In many cases, that person with vital access is a Spouse. Significant Other. Or a Relative.

Handle that confidant very delicately and with extreme care. If they happen to like you, times may be pretty good. But if they don’t – if you state to anyone, loudly or softly, their obvious ineptitude – your days (hours or minutes) will most likely be numbered.

Years ago I worked for a great organization with a difficult person who held considerable power ruling their division. It was self-evident in a very short time that the leader was completely unqualified for the position they held, lacked creativity, and possessed no background, management skills or education to have risen to their elite level. They had been promoted solely due to loyalty, eventually outlasting all others.

This “little nest of vipers” was very secretive…and a true struggle to work with. The hallway was piled high with the dead, bloody bodies, figuratively, the person had summarily dispatched in years past.

But this leader held one very important trump card: they had, over many years, completely endeared themselves to the head of the organization, who looked the other way. As long as the boss didn’t have to worry about that leader’s division, the confidant could do no wrong.

I once made a fatal mistake in challenging this leader about their secretive nature, citing the many critical decisions that directly affected my department that were repeatedly (and quietly) made in meetings attended only by the leader and the boss. I firmly asked for a voice in future conversations and decision-making.

Three weeks later I was banished…kicked out the organization’s door, bag and baggage.

Never call Eva Braun ugly.

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