Early in my career I was told that to be get ahead in corporate America you need to “walk fast and always carry a folder.” When I first heard that advice I laughed. We all laughed –a bunch of young Turks thinking that we were going to slay the world with our imaginations and hard work. As it turns out, the guy was right.
We’ve all seen these people speed-walking the hallways of our offices. They stop only long enough to raise a finger and nod their head indicating that they will get back to you. But they never do. They count on the fact that you’re too busy to remember that you ran into them in the hallway and asked for that report they promised.
Sometimes I get angry about those people, the same way that I get angry about the guy who jumps from the back of a line to the newly-opened lane at a busy grocery store when the clerk says “I can help whoever’s next.” But then I realize that there is nothing stopping me from jumping the line except an ideology that was imprinted on me by my parents, who were members of the Greatest Generation.
The issue with the guy who walks fast and carries a folder is that sometimes he makes it to a leadership position, and unless he surrounds himself with people who actually get things done, the corporate system begins to collapse. And that collapse creates collateral damage. So if you’re reading this and you’re in a position to promote the guy who walks fast and carries a folder, do yourself and your company a favor: tell him to just keep walking.