Stuck in the Middle: The Amoeba

It takes all kinds of leadership styles and ameoba is generally a kind, well intention and fairly good manager with limited creativity.  To just baseline on the core object which is the metaphor for this leader:

a•moe•ba also a•me•ba n. Any of various one-celled aquatic or parasitic protozoans of the genus [tag]Amoeba[/tag] or related genera, having no definite form and consisting of a mass of protoplasm containing one or more nuclei surrounded by a flexible outer membrane. It moves by means of pseudopods.

So it also is important to understand pseudopods:

pseu•do•pod (sōō’də-pŏd’) n. A temporary projection of the cytoplasm of certain cells, such as phagocytes, or of certain unicellular organisms, especially amoebas, that serves in locomotion and [tag]phagocytosis[/tag].

So the metaphor is a simplistic non-committal group thinker who just kinda hovers as a key activity. When experiencing an ameba event, typically it involve a fairly large group of folks from extended groups, your not sure why he/she is there, but you can’t miss ‘em because they took a seat at the middle of the table.

The other characteristic which is a little odd, this person schedule no meetings, in fact you probably can’t even remember the last meeting or email you received of from this person outside of the dog pile congratulations email streams which happen over a minor accomplishment.

So we have an effective non-entity. This person will wildly support any decision which has a clear majority and remain silent with anything below 70/30. (fair weather golfer)  Once the momentum is clear in a discussion, this person will emphatically agree! The amoeba will also be the last person to comment in a discussion. This person actually allows other functional to drive innovation into their own group which provides an exclamation to their passive reality. Bad Leaders Hover!

So how do you deal with this archetype? Just remember the amoeba is a survivor, in fact that’s all they ever do (embrace the metaphor).  Another key point to remember is when dealing with an amoeba is no one likes the mean kid and the bar for mean with this leader is low.

So if you can’t go head to head with this simplistic leader, use a mirror. Embrace the ameba’s view of the world and partner to develop an understanding of the processes and key metrics to deliver increased visibility through your own hovering in their group. Come up with improvement ideas and general observations to help improve the effectiveness of the group. The cool thing is if they invite you in – then you can do anything, so add some value!

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