The delivery was wrapped up in a fancy PowerPoint presentation, widely referred to as ‘a deck’ in the corporate world. It was page after page packed with facts and figures which we reviewed and re-reviewed. High levels of complexity were carefully summarised into brief points and digestable conclusions for the targeted audience. The outcomes succinctly communicated had delivered well beyond expectations, they had exceeded expectations.
It was the second time that the Executive Committee received this presentation. The first was in the early months of the transformational project I was hired to lead, and so it was fitting that I present it.
Since that first presentation, I had led from the front, wading through daily issues and high levels of complexity for more than a year. My mandate was to fix what others couldn’t. Many had tried and it was they who visibly sighed with relief when someone else took it on. With sympathy in their eyes, our conversations always began with ‘I wouldn’t want your job’.
I revelled in the challenge, in the opportunity to start on the back foot, dismissing those who thought my ambition was misguided. I wanted to not only deliver a turnaround, but I wanted to deliver something phenomenal. Instinct underwrote my belief that it could be done. Well that, and sheer determination which I saddled up with every day.
The second presentation was the culmination of thousands of hours of effort not just from myself, but my team and the wider departments engaged in the transformation. The first month of preparation involved weeks of meetings and revisions. I was heavily involved, crafting the message, revising and refining.
Then I wasn’t. I was removed (ejected? or is it too emotive) from the meetings; stood down from presenting.
He was a stranger to myself and the project. His involvement up to that point was almost zero. But seniority gave him the authority to step in.
As the many meetings and weeks of preparations continued without me over the months that followed, I continued to lead the team and the turnaround. He however sat in the seat at the presentation rehearsals, at the preparation meetings, fronting the delivery I had led.
He never once communicated with me.
He presented it to the Executive Committee.
He kidnapped the credit.