Beware of Backstabbers: How to Protect Your Team

Backstabbers promote self-interest at all costs. These wicked tricksters crush you with subtle moves. They move from gentle to ferocious in a single strike, like a Bengal Tiger. They’re a rare breed, but when you meet one, be prepared. They can slow results, damage morale, and derail careers. Beware and have your own moves.

Tigers challenge, frustrate, and don’t play fair. It’s often too late to react. You’re working too hard for that to happen to you or your team. Stay nice, treat others with compassion, take the high road, and protect.

Signs You’re Getting Mauled

Look around. Watch for other’s reactions and look for signs.

  • There’s a trail of carnage
  • You are constantly watching your back
  • Everyone runs
  • The roar
  • Sudden attacks
  • No mercy
  • Ravenous taking
  • Play turns deadly

How to Tame a Backstabber

Some tigers do change their stripes.It’s worth a try. Even when others have failed.

  • Listen carefully
  • Throw them some meat (give them what they need)
  • More meat
  • Ask for help (you may even ask them to be your “mentor”)
  • Show your stripes (take a stand)
  • Confront (question questionable behaviors, carefully and privately)

When to Sharpen Your Blade

And sometimes you must protect


  • You give them meat, and they eat your hand
  • And the other hand
  • You have scars on your back
  • It’s not just you
  • Strangers warn you


  • Produce tiger-proof results
  • Have rumor-squashing data at your finger-tips
  • Proactively tell your positive story (don’t mention the tiger)
  • Invest deeply in other relationships
  • Don’t react or run (stay cool)
  • Expose gently (as a last resort)