Avary Chong as founder of code-R, a NGO promoting Purposeful Living.
RESET Chapter 9 — Freedom from ego
Kevin Lam scanned his inbox in frustration. The replies he’d expected to receive by the end of the work day were notably absent, whilst his new executive assistant Maisie had presumptuously sent a detailed action plan in the mould of the blueprints left behind by Kevin’s predecessor, Gau. This would not do. Kevin fired off several follow-up messages demanding timely responses, then drafted a message to send Maisie early the next morning to catch her off guard.
The following day, Kevin arrived at work as normal at 6am. There was always so much work to do but so little time… He’d already texted his summons to Maisie for her to get to work early for a meeting, and he smiled in the knowledge she was probably flustered and rushing not to keep him waiting too long.
Kevin loaded the existing organisational chart for his new division on his computer, and cross-referenced with the notes he’d compiled for himself during the interviews he’d held with every team member on his first day as the division’s new Senior Vice President. Gau had afforded far too much autonomy, greenlighting multiple projects and elevating the responsibilities of multiple staff. No wonder the leaders on the team came across as entitled when he’d brought them in for questioning. Maisie though was another matter. As she was, in effect, a trusted lieutenant of his predecessor, he wasn’t sure at first whether he wanted to keep her around. In his experience of leadership transitions, deep loyalties to a former manager often made it more challenging taking direction from a new one if their styles and goals diverged.
So Kevin hadn’t made arrangements to meet Maisie beforehand, but the action plan she’d sent him convinced him he needed to see her sooner rather than later. In essence, she had offered to continue facilitating existing workflows, and had offered to help him adjust and learn the systems and processes already in place. No doubt she thought she was being helpful in taking such an initiative, but Kevin had no intention to keep any of the old ways of doing things. He wanted to make his mark and to quickly enact new policies and initiatives. The old always has to make way for the new.
But first he needed to deal with Maisie, who it seemed had played a central role in Gau’s management of the division.
He heard the crisp clicks of her heels in the marble hallway beyond his office, and timed his reproach for just before he knew she was about to knock on his door.
“You’re late,” he accused, and gave her a stern glance as she stumbled through a nervous apology. Without offering her a seat, he motioned for her to approach a tablet across his desk on which he had loaded her e-mail. As she scrolled down in silent confusion, he pressed forward.
“Ms. Wong, I hope you don’t presume to tell me how to do my job,” he said drily, “but I was quite put out to get your e-mail when your input had neither been requested, nor required.” He looked Maisie over as she struggled to reconcile his hostility.
“My taking over represents change, innovation. I am conducting a thorough review of the division to streamline work lines and to create a flatter organisational system, and I intend to make quite a few changes. So you have a choice. Step in line and do as you’re told, or get out of the way.”
Maisie decided quickly. “Duly noted, Mr. Lam. I’ll get back to you on that.”
Maisie walked out.
Food for thought: Which of the characters displays a stronger sense of ego, and why might this be a limiting factor in creating successful working relationships?