February 5, 2018

Michael (45), Vice President at a bank, London City:

“I was invited for an interview at one of the world’s biggest banks. They set up the time for Wednesday 11 a.m. even though I told them this is the least suitable day of the week due to a number of meetings that I had. Ok, I took a half-day off. The headhunter called me on Wednesday morning to confirm the meeting. I attended of course, since the position was very attractive. When I came to the reception of the bank, nobody knew that I was coming. The gentleman I was supposed to meet with was on vacation. He just forgot to update his calendar. Ok, I said. We set up another time. To be honest I didn’t expect too much, kind of “sorry for Wednesday” would be just fine. The interviewer did not say anything. For the next 45 minutes this young man (about 10 years younger than me) was checking my detailed knowledge of definitions. I knew them all, obviously, banking is my life. But I have achieved a bit more than knowing definitions in my career! When I went out of the building I was laughing, with no intension to come back to this institution again.”

This is a story that my coachee told me the other day about his experience from an interview he had few days earlier. Michael was confused and upset because of the way he was treated. No wonder, who wouldn`t be.

Thank you Michael for a great example of a manager who suddenly met one of my favorite Murphy`s laws saying that: almost every manager sooner or later enters a position that is too senior for him or her.

If I was to point out the two most stupid mistakes of the new-to-the-position managers, I would say:

–> Lack of respect

–> Urge to do something just because they can

In my eyes, both of them are fails of early beginners or compulsive idiots.

Let’s focus on each of them.

Lack of respect

From a long term perspective, lack of respect will surely not pay out. Our behavior testifies mainly about us, so if we behave as assholes, sooner or later we will be treated like one. Lack of respect to other people in many occasions means that we do not respect ourselves. Do you know anybody who would like to have a leader that does not have confidence in his/her own abilities and has to play hard? In this particular case our young manager can never be sure if his next interview is not going to be with Michael. Who knows? The world is surprisingly small.

Urge to do something just because we can

Young manager from this example surely did not have to apologize for not meeting with Michael on Wednesday. However, by doing so he would show respect to Michael and first of all he would confirm his own seniority. I have seen many personality transformations after promotions to higher positions. People started to behave arrogantly, suddenly did not have time for their former colleagues (now subordinates), sometimes tended to pay back old wounds. I am not saying that it would definitely stop them in their career growth, probably not. But as I mentioned in my former article (the King) there is a big difference between playing a leader and actually being a real leader. Good to know where you are heading before you start your journey.

If we come back to our Michael, we can assume that he was very lucky at the end. Would this young interviewer behaved more decently and with some respect, Michael might have taken the job. Then the young manager`s personality would probably come out later on anyways: for example, by bullying Michael at the workplace or doing other crazy things that are out of place in managerial positions in a bank. It this situation our protagonist will stay for some time with his current employer, maybe for little less money, but in a little healthier environment.

I appeal to create a new quality mark for corporations, something like “Mr. Murphy-free environment”. I wonder how many corporations would be able to get this certificate of excellence 😉

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