Finished reading Take the Lead by Betsy Myers

Finished reading Take the Lead by Betsy Myers

Last weekend, Zach and I stopped off at Half Price Books to peruse ┬átheir 20 percent off sale. These occasional sales are very important to Zach — it’s like Christmas in May to him. I usually don’t bring anything home, but this time I felt compelled to purchase some work-related advice. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to grow professionally and took this opportunity to pick up some books on leadership.

I thought this book would shed some light on best practices that I could use to communicate more effectively at work. I ended up getting much more than that. On Tuesday of last week, I opened the chapter relating to clarity. Ms. Myers relays the story of her time on the Obama campaign and how the staffers shared one singular focus: winning Iowa. She wrote about how every staffer had to ask themselves, “How does this help us win Iowa?” at every turn. I found this interesting, but more than anything I was jealous that I didn’t have that kind of direction.

In the first months in my new position, no one was able to articulate to me, even when I asked directly, what our singular focus should be. And when I tried to define that focus for myself, thinking that would show initiative and the ability to think strategically, my supervisor scoffed as if I just didn’t get it. It was very frustrating.

By the time I had reached the chapter about clarity, I had already read chapters about authenticity, the desire to connect, and respect. Each one had made my stomach turn a bit, but that’s what these types are books are meant to do, I think. I was questioning whether I was being my authentic self in this new position and the answer was no. I certainly felt no real connection with leaders in the company — in fact, I felt shut out. And because I had no connection and no direction, I did not feel respected. But the money was good …

This week, I went to work and answered a phone call around 10:45 a.m. from a number I didn’t recognize. It was my boss. She was letting me go. Budget cuts …

I am devastated. I feel like I let my family down and although I did receive a small severance package, I worry about our finances and how I’m going to turn this around. I’m also relieved. I’m probably more relieved than I am devastated. I had never worked in an environment that I felt no connection to and I hope I never have to do it again. In the rest of Myers’ book, she writes about collaboration, learning, and courage as key factors in successful leadership and these are the things I’m looking forward to.

Tapping into that courage bit, I’m looking for a job back in Houston — I can’t wait to be home for good. I know so much more about my profession and the industry now. I’m leaving that position with good references and looking forward to the next chapter.

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