The Power Trip

I’ll keep this short, I’m neck deep in analysis for the upcoming Wave report –while trying to balance client needs and projects, I’m busy.

When I worked at web startup in the first web boom, all kinds of people came to power that didn’t have the credentials or experience. The demand for leadership in this fast growing company resulted in immature professionals quickly moving to middle management. I remember two distinct instances where the power went to their head and I now tell their stories for all to learn:

Mr M. and the Weekly Porn Emails
Although we were in IT/Software Engineering Mr M. wasn’t from tech, and in fact, had very few technical skills, so his talent became managing one very talented technical worker. He spent most of his time causing drama, going out to lunch, and surfing and sharing porn at the office. In fact, every week, he would gather his favorite porn screenshots from playboy (I think he and his college buddies had an email list) and he would forward it to his friends. Sadly, friends and colleagues aren’t always the same, and in his mis judgement he repeatedly sent it to those under him –including me. In his wisdom, he even sent it to his subordinate, the talented tech guy. It only took a few months for this to get back to HR, and he was soon in crying his eyes out to keep his job in the VPs office while the rest of the office laughed at him for months –and still do today.

Moral of the story? Friends and colleagues aren’t always the same –respect the boundaries.

The Ego of Mr W. comes full circle
Mr W, was actually often in conflict with Mr M, they’d both moved into middle management in IT, yet by far, I’d prefer to be friends with Mr M. Now, Mr W on the other hand, through his psuedo-power around constantly telling everyone “I”m a director” and expecting us to kowtow to him with our foreheads buried to his entry of his window facing cubicle. He abused his power, taking over people’s projects –taking credit for them. I always remembered when he wanted something, he would come by and act so nice, so sweet, then BAM, here comes the Friday afternoon work request. Eventually, he used his power to intimidate the young girls, he didn’t realize it, but I was in the cube next to him when he told two female colleagues how he’d “love to get between them” and chuckle. He even made unsavory comments about my girlfriend (I had her picture on my desk), which were quite stinging. Years later, Mr W ended up working for someone that’s related to me (the valley is a very, very, small place) and IMd me and apologized for his behavior, I accepted, but will never forget.

Moral of the story? You’ve moved into power, so now act like it, and do something to improve yourself and those around you. Part 2: Be nice to everyone, you never know who will be in power.

Your turn…
Wow, that felt good. Now’s your chance to let it fly, jump on to the Jeremiah couch, and feel free to rant and rave, but two rules: 1) don’t give away the name of the offender or company name. 2) Give a moral of the story, so we can all learn. If you feel like being anonymous, I’m ok with that too.