After more years than I care to think about in service, there comes a point when the operational assumption should be that you know more or less what you’re doing. Sure, that’s probably not true for some people, but I’m fairly sure that I’ve earned enough stripes to be at least considered competent in most situations. Sure, I’m not going to be the most dynamic presenter or dazzle them with the brilliance of my PowerPoint slides, but I’ll get the meat of the matter across in a clear and concise way that our glorious leaders should at least find informative and useful.
I’m absolutely not asking for carte blanche to do whatever I feel like doing, but I think a reasonable basis to proceed would be to start with the premise that I know how to build slides using a template, I have a better than average grip on the subject matter, and won’t, as a rule, say things to the most senior of senior leaders that would reflect badly on me, you, or the 4 layers of management between me and the guy at the end of the table. As I’ve said before, my goal is to do whatever is going to cause me the least grief in the long run. I believe strongly in the importance of self preservation. In this case, that would involve making a solid enough presentation that the number of questions at the end will be held to a minimum. I know I’m still pretty new in this office, but at some point you’re going to have to trust that I’m not going to walk in and call the Old Man an asshat and piss my pants.
If nothing else, let us consider that I’m going to be the lowest graded guy in the room by a country mile. The chances of the mighty and powerful jumping up and down on my head for a minor mistake are between slim and none. If the worst happens and I completely lose the bubble, you can always blame it on me as the new guy, so really, no matter how it goes, the bases are all covered.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.