“You sure you want to work for her?” a senior administrator asked me point-blank. “She is an absolute jerk. She’s come into my office, this office right here, screaming and demanding things.” Similarly, another senior leader told me, “I’m fond of you and she’s not someone I would recommend you working under. I’m worried for and I’m warning you.”
But I went anyway.
And they were somewhat right.
But the thing is, we sometimes have to find out for ourselves.
Later, once in that work environment, people would ask me in passing, by phone and email, “What’s it like working for so-and-so?”
Or, “How can you stand her?”
And even, “You okay?”
That leader fired people when they messed up. Course, when you know someone’s looking for your mistakes or focusing on them, and sometimes sets you up for failure, you tend to mess up more.
You also got fired if she didn’t like you. And she went to great extents to ruin your reputation, credibility and career. Once fired, and not under her micromanagement umbrella anymore, she still worked to sabotage any of your future success.
Funny thing was, she made mistakes all the time. Yet, it was okay. It was a classic, “Do as I say, not as I do” culture.
And when a “high pollutant” person (to her) came into our department, she did the whole Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dance. You know, where she became someone we did not recognize. Trust me, the special treatment was envied yet, stomach-upsetting.
Shouldn’t, though, we all be treated with the same respect regardless of our position, last name, salary, popularity, history, status, or connections?
Eventually, no one in our department felt their job tenure was safe or wanted to be at work. And everyone I knew was looking for another job while they became a “yes” man and played “the game.”
And creativity and productivity?
Forget that. It was non-existent.
But let’s get to how I survived.
I worked to focus on what was working. What she was doing right because everyone does things right. And her potential because everyone has potential. And told her. Over and over and over again. Even while she reminded me and others of what we did wrong and held grudges. Yet, “anger and blame are unproductive emotions that tie up energy in destroying rather than creating” (Kanter, 2013).
I also worked to love her (i.e., professionally and Christlike so).
And forgave her. Which is something that was not reciprocated.
“Leaders must be firm and foster accountability, but they also must know when to forgive past wrongs in the service of building a brighter future” said Kantor (2013) in her Forbes piece, “Great Leaders Need to Know When to Forgive” (para. 1). She explained “Instead of settling scores, great leaders make gestures of reconciliation that heal wounds and get on with business” (para. 2). Even Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi believed, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong” (Santa Barbara.com, n.d.).
To date, although it once appeared we were enemies, we are now friends.
I believe people are placed in our lives to teach us, and perhaps, them too. I do not believe it is by coincidence, but divine placement.
The real questions, though, are what will you do with the folks’ and circumstances placed before you? Will you murmur or will you make and do good with them?
So the next time someone warns you not to work for someone, do think and pray about it.
Yet, keep in mind that it could be just what you need. After all, explained church leader Monte Brough (2016), when quoting the Apostle Paul, “… tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope … ” (para. 11).
Brough, M. J. (2016, April). Lessons from the Old Testament: Adversity, the great teacher. Retrieved from https://www.lds.org/ensign/2006/08/lessons-from-the-old-testament-adversity-the-great-teacher?lang=eng
Brushfield, A. (2014, August 11). Are you respected in the workplace? Retrieved from https://www.thindifference.com/2014/08/respected-workplace/
Kanter, R. M. (2013, February 26). Great leaders know when to forgive. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2013/02/great-leaders-know-when-to
Passionate giving. (2012, April 30). How to confront bad leadership. Retrieved from https://veritusgroup.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/how-to-confront-bad-leadership/
Santa Barbara.com. (n.d.). Forgiveness. Retrieved from http://hindi.santabanta.com/sms-cat.aspx?catid=621&page=2
Somewhere creative. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cargocollective.com/somewherecreative/focus-on-potential