Engineer 1 visits the headquarter office and meets a VP at the elevator. The engineer doesn’t know that this is a VP.
Engineer in a very peaceful and pleasant voice: “Hi, how are you? My name is X. I am visiting from another office. This is my first time here. You must be very lucky to work in this nice office.”
VP: “Thank you. Yes, it’s a nice office. What team are you in?”
Engineer: “I am on team Y.”
VP: “It is a great team. You guys are working on some cool project.”
The elevator comes to a stop and they wish each other well.
Later on, when the engineer find out that he talked to a VP, he hopes that he didn’t say anything stupid.
At the end of the day, the engineer takes the elevator to go home and meets the VP again.
Knowing that he’s in the same elevator with a VP, the engineer becomes very uncomfortable. The VP is friendly like he was in the morning and is glad to see his new friend again. Fear grows inside the engineer. He’s intimidated. He just says “Hi” and couldn’t open his mouth anymore.
It’s the same person this engineer meets in two different circumstances. The engineer lets the title and formal position intimidate him. He’s no longer free like he was in the morning.
This is a common mistake people in workplace make. They assign power and authority to someone’s title. They let titles control how they talk to someone.
A title doesn’t make someone a leader. A position doesn’t make someone a leader. What make someone a leader is influence. Influence is earned. Don’t assign power, influence, authority to someone with a title. More importantly, treat everyone you meet like a human being.