Can you hold my gum?

February 17, 2011
hold my gum

“Hold my gum while I am speaking on stage.”

The wonderful thing about executive coaching is you get to see and hear things that seem so totally implausible. You begin to see where Hollywood scriptwriters get their material. It is called life.

Recently, a story caught my attention about a boss and his subordinates that just captured me. The VP said, “When the team goes along to an event with him, we are there to hold his gum.”

Thinking that it might just be a metaphor, I probed deeper. It turns out that she literally meant one of the senior team would hold his, the boss’s, gum when he went up on stage. This is not only how he behaves, but has trained his very smart, sophisticated, accomplished team to participate in this behavior. As we talked further, I learned that now the “gum holding” has become a metaphor for how this team sees themselves through the boss’s eyes.

When they have ideas and suggestions, they hold them back because they know that he does not respect any idea that is not his own. They’re told to “go do something useful” like “hold my gum.”

Are you asking people to hold your gum? Has it been done to you? Tell us your story….

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