Mr. Graves's story related earlier illustrates point number one. Invincible executives search for small, tangible signs of opportunism in those they are evaluating. Graves points to two such signs of an opportunistic person. First, opportunists make little slipups that show a preoccupation with "perks." An opportunist cannot help but think of himself or herself as being above the organization. Consequently, he or she will ask about company credit cards, flying first class, baseball tickets, fancy hotels. "They love to talk about these things; they can't help it," says Graves. That is not to say that people should never talk about the trappings of wealth and power. But invincible executives are on the lookout for people who are preoccupied with the perks—like new employees who raise these matters during their first few days at work, or seasoned employees who spend more time trying to get their airline seat upgraded than preparing for the meeting that necessitated the travel.
Second, Graves looks for someone who tries to change the organization before he or she understands it. He points to a new employee who immediately pushed for casual Fridays. She did not bother to find out that Mr. Graves is adamantly opposed to casual dress in the office. "Change is fine," he said, but "you do yourself a disservice to walk into an organization that is doing well and start imposing your values on it immediately." Opportunists try to mold everything to suit their personal desires, and they usually lack the patience to wait very long to do so.
Mike Sears of Boeing notes a third quirk of opportunists—the "spotlight" mentality. Opportunists are pleasant and charming when the spotlight is on; they are irritable, condescending, and moody when they are toiling behind the scenes. Look for these signs.