Executives Are People Too
As I am working my way through not always deferring to consultants and experts, I am crossing another frontier that I avoided at all costs. I never socialized with upper management. My mindset focused only on the technical. Everything else involving non technical team members was political drama and a waste of time and money. I never realized my opinion toward upper management was so negative. I’ve had bad experiences before (haven’t we all?). But since I’ve been on a positive and pushing the envelope mindset, it’s about time I let this old crippling mindset go.
They Go On Vacations
In the past, when I had to assist an executive I would focus on the task and keep the conversation to the bare minimal. I wasn’t there to make friends, plus subconsciously I didn’t want anything to do with them. This time around I recalled that this particular VP I was helping recently went on vacation. We had a delightful chat about Scotland, Amsterdam, and Belgium. Not only did we enjoy each other’s company we made the original computer issue a more pleasant experience.
When I worked with another VP, she inquired if I was ok because it looks I lost weight. I was shocked she noticed and then became self conscious. “I did start a new diet with no carbs and am exercising. Do I look unhealthy?” She quickly eased my fears. “No no, you look good. It’s just that your face was fuller so I knew you lost weight.” I wondered out loud, “You are very observant because I only lost a few pounds and you still picked it up.” She expertly explained, “You only detected a few pound weight loss because your exercising built up muscle mass that off set some of the weight you loss.” I had no idea this VP knew about health, nutrition, and exercising.
They Have a Sense of Humor
My final VP’s new iPad crashed on a software upgrade. I told her assistant that I was doing some research on how to recover from the crash. Minutes later I ran into said VP and she playfully asked, “Are you done with my iPad yet?” My first impression of this VP was that she is serious and very by the book. It was a pleasant surprised when she poked her head in while I was assisting the previous VP and she said, “Are you cheating on me?” As I got to know her more, she is quite nice and personable. I always thought I could only be playful and banter with friends. How wrong I was.
Like many of my problems, I am the root cause. In one of my final VP interactions before Christmas, two VP’s were chatting about their upcoming holiday party. In the past, I would silence myself and mine my own business because I was just the hired help. This time around, I joined their conversation even though I wasn’t invited to the party. I acted like a peer rather than a subordinate and they treated me in kind. In the past, my lack of self confidence made me feel inadequate and intimated around upper management. Couple that with my negative view of executives, it’s no wonder I avoided them like the plague. My friend Rick reminded me I should continue what I’m doing because you never know when our paths may cross again. He is so right as I was reminded yet again it really is who you know and not what you know.