Are You Worth Cloning?

Would your company be better off with three of you?

By Tom Dossenbach

There has been a lot of discussion on and off in the last few years regarding the issue of cloning. The controversy came to a boil in July 1996, when a team of Scottish scientists produced the first live birth of a healthy sheep cloned from an adult sheep. As I write this column, a horse has just been cloned in Italy.

“Cloneability” Questions
  • Is your work ethic worth cloning?
  • Are you a team player worth cloning?
  • Are your listening skills worth cloning?
  • Is your creativity worth cloning?

A clone is “one that closely resembles another, as in appearance or function.” It is logical then that the only reason one would want to clone something is to duplicate traits or characteristics. The question that comes to mind then is: “Am I worth cloning?”

Indeed, as a company employee are you worth cloning? To put it another way, would your company benefit by having three of you instead of just one? If you can answer that question with an honest “yes,” you can rest assured that you are contributing in a very positive way to the success of the company.

Work Ethic

One of the first desirable or “cloneable” traits or values that we look for when interviewing a person is their work ethic. However, a good work ethic is much more than showing up at seven in the morning and leaving at six.

I always trashed resumes that began with a statement of objective such as ‘to further my career in the furniture industry” or “to broaden my experience.” The reason I rejected them was that the first thing that appeared was self-serving and not focused on the company’s needs. Why would I hire someone to fill a position who was more interested in what the company could do for them than what they could do for the company?

If a person has a good work ethic, he or she will focus on using their time and energy to help the company become more competitive no matter what their area of responsibility. If everyone does this, the company prospers and everyone’s job becomes more satisfying and secure with a stronger company. Unlike what the job applicant put on his resume, this is furthering a career.

How does your work ethic measure up?

Team Player

There is no “they” or “me”, only “we”, in the vocabulary of a clone candidate. Company politics and individual egos are like poison to a company. Just as a good work ethic places the company above self, being a good team player buries selfish motives and promotes the goals of the team.

You don’t have to be an avid sports fan to know that really successful teams work as a unit and not with individual egos and motives getting in the way of what’s best for the whole. It amazes me to see petty squabbles and jealousy serving as major constraints to the growth and vitality of companies already struggling to survive. You would be correct to assume that this is usually a big part of the problem.

Your company does not need anyone who is not a team player. Watching a rowing regatta can be a good way to witness the failure of not working as a team. or conversely, to see the success of a team working hard in harmony. All of the members of the rowing team must pull together with extraordinary synchronization or they will lose the race. A company is no different. One person placed in an important role in the company can nullify the efforts of the rest of the team if he or she is determined to do their own thing.

Do you consider yourself a team player in your current job?

Good Listener

To truly have a good work ethic and be a strong team player, you must be a good listener. Every time I am in the midst of a group discussing critical issues I see someone who just doesn’t get it — they miss the point altogether. Usually this is a result of the fact that they are not really listening to what everyone else is saying. They do not think the issue is as important as the one on their mind at the time or they just do not want to hear about anyone else’s problems. A good listener considers another person’s viewpoint and opinion as important as their own and an opportunity to learn.

A leader, supervisor or manager must listen intently to others in order to be effective. No matter what we think we know, there are others around us that individually or collectively know much more than we do. Any individual knows something about a subject that we do not and refusing to listen to them is just plain stubborn and stupid.

Listening in a broader sense means more than being polite when others are talking. You must be informed about what is going on around you in your company and in the industry. You must listen and read to determine industry trends that will affect you and your company. No company can operate in a vacuum, but every company needs informed employees who can make good decisions.

Are you always making assumptions that you know best how to deal with any issue and give your opinion before being asked, or do you listen first?


You can have a good work ethic, be a great team player and a good listener, and still fall short of your potential if you do not apply these traits in a creative way. Integrating creativity into your job means to continually look at the company with an open mind for change. Without change, a company will die and you will go along with it.

The trouble with most employees that have been with a company for awhile is that they get too comfortable and complacent and begin to overlook inefficiencies and waste of all kinds. If you have creativity, you have the capacity to continually renew your objectivity in the workplace and view your company as if from a distance.

To believe there is always a better way is a good mindset for creativity. The “cloneable” trait of creative people is that they are always equipped and ready to color outside the lines.

How Do Others See You?

Today more than ever before, companies need great leaders in boardrooms and on factory floors. For space concerns, I did not discuss essential traits such as honesty and integrity that should be a part of all of us. We all know how important these are and should include them in a self-evaluation in order to determine how we measure up and if we are worthy of cloning.

I hope you can strip away all of your pride and try to look at yourself as others see you and, more importantly, how you really are. Any perception of you is either true or is a misconception drawn by observing you at work. If they see you as a great leader with the traits we mentioned above, then maybe you are a likely candidate for cloning.

If you recognize that you fall short, resolve to change and you will have just made the most important decision of your career.

Even if you do qualify, cloning you is not going to happen. The next best thing is to try to gently and tactfully encourage others to embrace your values. This is not to suggest that you project a holier-than-thou attitude but rather one of encouraging and mentoring others. It may be just by being a continuing good example for others.

Even though you can’t be cloned, your values can be. Your company can reap the benefits every day.

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