Last night, a friend of mine disappeared.
It was only a couple of hours ago that I received a message from him. He said he needed time to think… and that after thinking, he’s decided to file for resignation.
Let’s be blunt. It’s such a waste – the time he spent in the office, trying to start a new career with a growing company with a showcase account; the effort that he put in, trying to improve his team’s performance; the competency. I used to talk about a leadership model when I did classes for Succession Planning and one of the first things I say is this:
“When you really think about it, leadership is all about influence. Good leaders have an incredible ability to influence people about the way they think and the way they do things. There have been many schools of thought about different leadership styles and we all have a ‘default style’ – it’s the one that we feel most comfortable with and will tend to use most often. Good leaders know what their default style is and uses it to the best of their abilities. Great leaders know when to step out of their comfort zone and change styles depending on the current situation and the person they’re trying to influence.”
We always say that anything done in excess is bad. I once worked with a supervisor who did not talk to me, did not coach me, did not give me feedback about whether I was things correctly or not. I am, by nature, more independent than most. I don’t have the need for constant reassurance and affirmation. I can pretty much work on my own and have very little need for validation. I don’t need my boss to be my friend – although I also think that if that happens, it’s one of the biggest perks that i’ll ever get. So I don’t need as much attention… that doesn’t mean that my boss ignoring me for months at a time was justified. This, by the way, was the same boss who agreed with his boss that my position was to be declared redundant. Towards the end of my career with Sykes, I think there was an attempt from him to reach out – more 5-minute moments of asking how my interviews were going and if I had heard back from certain groups. The sad thing was by that time it was just too late. I had given up all hope of getting any recognition from him and, at that point, was just not interested about his perception of me.
The saddest thing, I think, was that I actually became better at what I did when he was my boss. He did put me in situations that were unfamiliar and uncomfortable and made me live up to my job title. I supervised my team and I did training classes. I learned how to run behavioral classes, create instructional materials and facilitator guides. The highlight of my year, I would say, was creating the Trainer Mentoring Program and running it successfully. It was not error-free and far from perfect, but it was nothing like we had ever done before, especially tailored to develop trainer competencies on a macro (non account-specific) and micro (account-specific) level. And it was mine. From the conceptual framework, to the implementation plan, to the execution, to feedback and re-assessment… it was all mine. As I said, I knew that I had come a long way from where I was when I was under him. But he never saw that. He never saw me. In the end, the redundancy became a good thing. It became the reason I was looking for to finally leave the company I had been working for my entire career. There are so many other things I’d like to say about this… but that is a another story and would be told at a different time.
My friend’s case is a little bit different. If my frustration came from not receiving enough attention, his is rooted from being given too much. Trying to be mature individuals, we all say that we are open to feedback, whether positive or negative. But the truth is, no one really likes being told that they’re wrong. No one really appreciates hearing that there’s a certain part of them that isn’t acceptable or up to par. In our heart of hearts, we all want to believe that it’s okay to be who we are and how we are… and so receiving negative feedback just goes against the natural order of things. Don’t get me wrong… I’m not saying that we’re all liars about the openness to receiving perceptions about ourselves. I’m just saying that even if we are open to getting bad news, we don’t welcome it with open arms.
Too much of “you’re doing the wrong thing” or “you’ve got to give me something better than that” and sometimes we start believing it. We start doubting ourselves and begin to go down that slippery slope that most of us never really learn to get out of. Doubting ourselves is bad enough, but doubting ourselves and not getting any support from the person who is suppose to develop us into a better professionals is just cruel and unusual punishment.
And no one really deserves that.
Holed Up In: Our room in Colorado
Drowning In: Dialogue from Criminal Minds (s6, e9)