In China they call them “apple polishers”, in Australia, “brown noses”, in Germany, “Arschkriecher”, in England, they’re a “Toady”, and in America a “Kissass”.
The real sycophant, the obsequious report who is an obvious fake, is easy to ignore and will soon be his own undoing. But when the sucking-up is sophisticated and well-masked, that can be dangerous. Such a report can lead you well astray. You treat them as a valued employee, listen to their council, trust them to run their show, all in the mistaken belief that they’re good. Your line-of-sight to the front line gets distorted, and with it your decisions are compromised. Meanwhile they’re undermining you at every opportunity.
How to tell when you’re being played? The man who is obsequious upwards is almost always a tyrant downwards and often a bully sideways. Watch surreptitiously how they interact with colleagues and reports. You’ll get the true picture.