Big corporations seem to foster one of our core instincts: self preservation. This instinct shows up to alert us when we are in organizational danger, kicking our fear when there is a chance we might lose our position, lose power against other peers, or be relegated to oblivion (meaning not getting invited to some meetings).
Those fears trigger reactions of all kind, ranging from plain rage against others to maquiavelan plans to regain the favors of those in power. In any case they are always i) self-centered and ii) defensive.
I must say this behaviour shows up at alarmingly high rates, resulting in the well known specimen of the middle manager with a private agenda. A specimen that crowds the meeting rooms and essentially paralyzes organizations, wasting a tremendous amount of brain power in the process.
Wealthy salaries and high profile positions only worsen the situation. The more privileged, the more alert you become, fear kicks in, self preservation rules. Suddenly that flashy new hiring is spending more time in survival mode than in contribution mode. Interesting trade off. Besides, we would all like to think that contribution is the best strategy to endure, but unfortunately that may not be true when loyalty, trust and other not so noble currencies start to trade in that game.
I must confess. I found myself fearing the other day. It was the first time in ages (ever?). And yes, I had the same self centered, defensive reactions as everyone else. It must have been my new position, obviously. But I resolved to fight fear back, if only out of laziness: it just feels tiring to deal with that stuff. In the middle of the unrest, I realized with absolute clarity that no good decision will ever come out of fear. I felt like a kid riding a bike, scared at the stone in the middle of the road, trying hard to outmanoeuvre it and inevitably hitting it in the middle. So I decided to look ahead and not give a shit about the stone. I revert to contribution, not as a great defensive strategy, but as a diversion. I'm not that good at tracing plots, you know. Totally out of my comfort zone. Besides, contribution is probably more correlated to satisfaction than position, even though it is probably easier to say from where I stand. It's either this or raising my hand to ask for a salary cut and regain my freedom (I'll try contribution first).
Have a great weekend and limit your games of thrones to those in the books or the show, they are way more entertaining!