Edwina is a successful manager working in Asia. In the last three years she has built an innovative strategy for her business. The strategy was endorsed by the business as being totally aligned with the overall strategy and Edwina is successfully completing it with active support from her widely distributed team. She has worked hard on developing her leadership skills and manages her professional discipline with recognition from her team, colleagues and those higher in the hierarchy.
Yet she is thinking of resigning. The problem is a new boss who she sees is acting against the interests of the company. None of his actions are illegal or immoral, although Edwina thinks some of his actions are unethical and violate the company’s stated values.
Two of her team and a colleague senior manager have told her they are thinking of resigning.
The situation came to a head for Edwina when the manager, Roger, spoke extremely rudely to her. When she asserted that his statements were inappropriate, Roger was even more rude and started making accusations about Edwina.
Her functional boss is aware of Roger’s poor management style and told Edwina that his performance was being assessed. Despite all the rhetoric, no action was likely to be taken if he produced the desired business results. Edwina could see that if any corporate action was to be taken it would be months away.
In the meantime she had to have a plan. She got her thoughts straight and called her coach.
In a mentoring and coaching conversation Edwina reviewed many ways of dealing with the situation and developed a multi-faceted plan with her mentor’s guidance.
First, she resolved not to resign immediately. She resolved to keep her colleagues steady by encouraging them to keep up their productivity and to manage their personal resilience, using some skills she shared with them.
Secondly, Edwina decided to keep a personal diary, recording her interactions with her boss and the logic she used in deciding how to respond when he acted badly towards her.
Thirdly, she decided to continue keeping good records of his instructions and demands.
Fourthly Edwina decided to take a short break and ensure she was approaching this situation properly. For her, this involved charting how she thought Roger’s actions were inconsistent with the company’s values. Then she charted how she saw her actions as being consistent with the company’s values. And finally, she charted what her deep personal values were and how she saw Roger’s actions being inconsistent with her values. She used this thinking to steady her emotions and to guide her actions in future interactions with Roger over the next few months.
During this time, with her mentor’s support, she stayed resilient, did not resign, pulled her work and non-work life into better balance and she used this situation to learn how to handle similar situations in future. Unfortunately the organisation’s leaders weren’t willing to lead the organisation out of the morass, so the productivity, morale and performance destroying behaviours continue.
One thing is sure: Edwina and organisational leaders across the world will deal with situations like this time and time again. The situations won’t go away. Good managers learn how to build their repertoire of skills for managing the unmanageable.