moment you feel deep in your soul that you can’t be successful in your job.
Whether it’s because a team has turned on you, your boss is limiting you (while
benefitting from your work), or your peers leave you isolated when you need
their support. You know you’ve done great work and been loyal to your team. So
what is happening?
campaigns and passive aggression are kryptonite to strong women. We don’t
understand them, we don’t engage in them, and when they’re waged on us, we have
no clue how to overcome them—short of leaving the jobs we worked so hard to
to Strong Women Isn’t New
social progress, one drip at a time, have done little to quell the waves
of resistance experienced by assertive, high-achieving women across the world.
We have more women in leadership than ever before, yet most will tell you that
getting there did not mean being there would be easy. In fact, high-achieving women are more likely to be on the verge of quitting due to
resistance, passive aggression, and professional isolation.
women put their hearts and souls into pushing their organizations and teams
forward, workplace betrayal can come as a complete shock. It might show up as petty
competition by coworkers or team members, being passed over (whether they knew
it or not), or subtle silencing by bosses who directly benefit from their hard
work. Those same bosses might hold them in place for years—or decades—by
rewarding their successes while limiting their promotion prospects. Directness
and courage in women can be unsettling to others and are often the unspoken reasons to hold them back.
Criticism is Common!
Keirin Snyder of Textio, high-achieving women are 38 times more likely to
receive personality criticism in their performance reviews than their male
counterparts. They receive the same (high) performance scores, but their bosses
feel the need to tell them to be softer, quieter, more agreeable. In other
words, don’t actually lead. Assertiveness is seen as aggression and directness
is seen as abrasiveness—but only in women. Men are routinely rewarded and often admired for these traits.
When high-achieving women try to find out what they’re doing wrong but no one has
anything concrete for them to act upon, they may not actually be doing anything
wrong! Sure, their style can rub some people the wrong way in moments, but my
clients aren’t monsters—they’re just strong women. Many work extremely
hard to adjust for others’ styles. They withhold or soften their feedback and
yield to others on a daily basis. So why the shunning?
This is the
point where most of my clients reach out for help, whether they've just resigned or are planning to leave soon. If others won't meet them half way, they see no other choice.
of Staying…or Going
stayed awake at night ruminating and recalculating next steps. They’ve tried to
“solve for x” but it’s impossible to apply logic when it’s not a problem of
logic. They’ve replayed conversations, meetings, and performance reviews.
They’re working way harder than others to solve this interpersonal gap, but
with little success. Bottom line is, they’re ready to call it quits.
can’t change how others see you, it can feel like you have no choice but to
seek out a fresh start. When talented women get to this point, everyone
loses if they leave. Their teams lose out on visionary leadership and
courage that she’s always brought to the table. Their bosses lose the workhorse
who will solve the tough problems and get the big wins. And the women
themselves lose out on reaching that big goal that they always have in mind for
any job they’re in. What’s worse is losing out on leaving a team healthy and
happy when they go.
Resignation has only exacerbated the trend of high achieving women choosing to
walk rather than digging in and turning this dynamic around.
for my clients to stay one more year. That’s it—no more, no less. It only
takes a few months to completely turn their reputations around, then a few short
months to make giant leaps on a big goal. If they still want to leave at that point, then it will be on a high note.
have to lay awake at night, we don’t have to sit with our frustration over our
bosses’ limitations on us. We certainly don’t have to let peers continue to
circle around us like wolves. We worked hard to get into these roles—and we can
apply that same commitment to renewing our workplace identities, so we can
leave on good (or great) terms when we’re ready.
applies to you, give yourself time to turn it around! The world is full
of people who can coach and mentor you through this, but find someone who knows
this dynamic and can give you specific, actionable steps to transform your
identity and impact at work. You can do it! I know this is true, because I’ve done
it myself—and I'm glad I did!
One of my
clients recently told me that she left her last position under these exact
circumstances. She’d done everything she could think of to improve her workplace
image but her credibility with the bosses didn’t recover. Although she went on
to build her own business (and is very successful in it), leaving her previous job
at a low-point haunts her to this day. She feels like it’s a stain on her
career and worse—that it was an avoidable personal failure.
More Year Can Change Everything
The cost of
staying can be high if we don’t turn things around, but the cost of leaving can
be even higher. I ask clients to imagine themselves dissolving resistance to
their leadership over the next six months…then spending another six months
completely immersed in amazing teamwork and challenging projects that can change
their organizations. That’s what staying can give you—restored confidence, relationships,
What can it save you?... Regrets!
Don't let the Great Resignation sweep you away too soon. Instead, launch the Great Restoration! Give
yourself time and invest in the art of the turnaround—a skill that will pay dividends in future interpersonal dynamics at work and at home!