It's not that they're unintelligent. I most cases their IQ would be worthy of a chess grand master.
It's not that they're socially dysfunctional. Hmm, well at least not completely. Most VPs don't look very becoming in jeans for instance. Don't know why ...
But when cornered and in times of change, the majority of senior managers show off the same three features:
- Complete lack of coherent communication. For example, the only information you can expect to get is what you already knew. The reason is simple: they think that if you tell the truth people will obstruct, which we all know is nonsense. I admit I do the same thing, it has become an automatic behaviour. If you haven't said anything you become less vulnerable. And complaints about lack of communication only show up in employee surveys a year later. And we all know about how seriously they are taken.
- Blaming others. Especially other VPs and their organizations. It's very much like a beauty contest with only ugly people. You need to make the others look uglier. It's fascinating how things can go from good to bad in just one day. Just to give you a flavour, I got an e-mail from a VP praising my organization dated one day before a complete slashing. The interesting thing is that the praise was given to me privately but the slashing had a larger audience. Which brings me to the next point.
- cc:lists from hell. Oh, the wonders of cc:lists! Not only do all cc:mail clutter up your mailbox with things you don't want to know about. cc: is a lethal weapon! A very common tactic to get an upper hand is to criticize someone putting some of the officers of the company on copy. It creates the illusion that a problem has been around for a while and is now being escalated. Not only that, you can't respond without appearing to be defensive and cluttering up the mailbox of others. So the initiator has shown the rest of the company that he's taking responsibility to set things straight. And you get blamed for inactivity, lack of quality, etc without the means to retaliate.
Trying to appear bigger than you are is the nucleus of the small person behaviour syndrome, in short Small Person BS. The result of their actions is always Corporate BS.
But it is actually worse. Your future is decided when VP is in this state of mind.