… if you are the smartest guy in the room, you are in the wrong room

this is kind of a sad story that centers around how a person’s ego can get bigger than their game and it winds up doing them in…

Mark was an VP… and I say “was” because, up until the beginning of this week he was…for a $200 million company. When he inherited the region, it had never made its goal. He fixed that real fast… he fired the right people, hired new ones and managed a team of 12 executives for the last few years. He did do a really fantastic job in turning the thing around.

Even though he was the top producer in the company, the company had been going through some pretty rough times. He let it be known more than once that he disagreed with management and that things should be done differently. He was always the smartest guy in the room. (His reminding folks, from time to time, of his 4.0 gpa from a prestigious MBA program didn’t help either. And the name dropping was pretty obnoxious.) He didn’t mind sharing his opinions with a number of his peers and other people who would listen. After all, he was the top VP in the company and was pretty convinced that they would never mess with him.

From time to time, he didn’t mind entertaining other job opportunities. Over the last few years he, apparently, went down the road with a number of these firms for leadership positions, but for various reasons, didn’t get the jobs, or couldn’t relocate or turned the jobs down. To make things worse, he didn’t mind letting it be known to some of his peers and other people in the company that there were “lots of other organizations who would be interested in him.” He didn’t seem to mind letting his peers and others know how “valuable” he might be to others. There was also an implied, “these guys don’t know how good they got it with me…they should listen to me more” attitude. After all, he was the top VP in the country and, I guess, was feeling untouchable.

When a promotion opportunity became available, he was passed over. It really pissed him off. He let that be known too. He asked the powers to be why he wasn’t being considered and, even he, realized he got some pretty weak, ingenuous excuses. He moaned about that to just about anybody that would listen. But keep in mind, he was still producing the best results in the company.

Well, last week, he got canned. His boss called up and just told him they were gonna let him go. It didn’t seem to matter that he was a top producer. What mattered was they just didn’t trust him. He tried to defend himself by saying that even when he looked for a job, he didn’t do it on their time. “Everybody looks for new opportunities all the time,” he said. “We are all kind of free agents, aren’t we? Just look at people’s LinkedIn profile, everybody’s always open to new opportunities.”

What is sad is that Mark is a good guy. He did perform well. But having to be the smartest guy in the room got old. He didn’t keep his ego in check. He thought he was a little bigger than the company and he let folks know it. None of us are ‘untouchable.’

If you gotta be the smartest guy in the room, someone will decide you are in the wrong room.

 

 

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