“Hope is not a strategy,” said the VP to me.
It was after I used the word ‘believe,’ as he told me that my language was to weak. He was new to the company and I had grown into a veteran of sorts. But of course this was just retail.
I knew hope wasn’t a strategy. But I couldn’t understand how he didn’t understand that I knew that. He would say things, that proved to be rehearsed lines. Over and over, as if taglines were the only way to manage from his perspective. It is clear that he was above me in the company hierarchy. But it felt as though he required a bow, at least in language, to his position. In some cases he wanted a nod, in others he wanted constraint. It was enough that there was a mental situation happening, a part from the idea of just doing the work.
It was the air of politics entering the lower levels of a corporate world.
Taking away the talk of belief or hope, was one of many signals. For the idea that this VP was simply looking for some ‘yes’ people.
“We’ll have to put that in the parking lot,” was his phrase for dodging questions in a group setting.
“When the rubber meets the road,” would echo anytime he was setting expectations.
He once played the “Kill the Bear’ scene from the movie The Edge, in order to explain to a group of middle managers how ‘what one man can do another can do.’ It was meant to be inspiring, but it was a bit similar to those times in grade school, when a younger me, would get excited because a tv was being brought into the classroom. For that signaled that we wouldn’t have any questions to answer until the end of the class.
He wasn’t a bad VP. He just hid a lot of context. He always had a strategy for his meetings, even one on one. And so often that amounted to his assumption of the other person’s goals or aspirations. And so much of the time would be spent explaining yourself, rather than getting to know each other.
For instance, with the movie. While the short scene was all he needed to make his point. Comparing a scene in a movie involving a plane crash, survival in nature and varying states of paranoia; with the challenge of managing a retail company, can create delusions in the minds of anyone within the hierarchical structure.
The point is, if you are from on high, so to speak. Meaning your role within the organization is secured in leadership. Than it is you that should be gifting the gestures of grace and thoughtful notes. The people below you, can already see your high station in the mental structures of the group. And so you give the verbal bow or curtesy, to show that you are descended to the same level whenever you meet.
The reason for this, is not for humility. That is an inner thing. The reason for this is so that you can assure your position by standing on real bonds of trust and not a house of cards. When loyalty is only bought, companies will grow and fold at the whims of any stock market. By being on the same level as those you meet with. You can level out the differences. And make certain that both parties, are working for the team and not against it. Even if there are disagreements for the path that people should take.
Because everyone on a team has to work together.
Between the office and the grinders.
All I can do is hope that people learn to work together. The strategy, is separate from the desire.