Should I stay, or should I go?
12th September 2019
Earlier in my career, I worked for The Leadership Trust in Ross-on-Wye. The company specialises in leadership development programmes for senior managers. It was a great place to work and I learned so much over the more than 10 years I was there.
One of the key concepts the Trust taught was multi-directional leadership. Through various practical tasks and reviews, they advocated ‘upwards leadership’ alongside traditional ideas of top down leadership and leadership of one’s peers.
Upwards leadership is about not being afraid to make suggestions or offer advice to your line manager or director. This can be very scary (especially if you have an intimidating line manager). However, the Trust suggested, effective leaders will welcome suggestions from all-comers, including you. This is based on the fact that no one – not even the best leaders in the land – has all the answers. By involving team members in discussion, ultimately the leader will be making the best decisions for the business. A win-win situation.
I have put this theory into practice throughout my career. To be honest, I’ve never been much of a ‘yes woman’ and have always been fairly opinionated. To give credit to my bosses over the years, most have accepted my suggestions with equanimity. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve implemented them. But I’ve felt listened to and respected and my career hasn’t suffered as a result.
However, what happens if you have a line manager who isn’t willing to listen or doesn’t invite or accept any contributions. Worse still, what do you do if you have a manager who constantly bats away your suggestions as irrelevant, invalid or ill informed. How would that make you feel? And at what point do you decide whether to stay or go?
At what point do you decide whether to stay or go?
I have been in this situation on only a couple of occasions. It has made me feel under-valued and has knocked my confidence professionally. After several months, or sometimes years, it has ground me down. There comes a point for all of us when we have to consider our position. Ultimately, I decided to move on. The risk of being out of work for a period was less important to me than the feeling of gloom I was experiencing as I approached the office door. In the end, I had to accept that nothing was going to change no matter how much upwards leadership I proffered.
So, although I would definitely support the idea of upwards leadership, this will only work if you operate in an environment where such an approach is welcomed. It depends on the culture of the workplace and – ultimately – the man or woman who sits at the top of the tree.