Post # 1
I am so frustrated right now. I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, essentially an impasse with my boss.
My boss, the Executive Director, is a great person. She is creative, innovative, big picture thinker and can be a great leader. However, she is also very stubborn, doesn’t take feedback (at all), railroads people when she doesn’t agree with them and is so hard to have a conversation with when you don’t agree. I have worked for her for a number of years, so none of this is really new…except for the recent change in our situation.
I have been asked/offered to become the next Executive Director (by her), a transitition that will occur over the next two years. She is supposed to train and mentor me to take over. With a lot of thought and reflection, I accepted the offer. But ever since (only a few weeks), things have become so tense. I am being told to “step up,” “own my ideas,” “be a leader,” etc, yet when I stand up to her and fight for what I believe is right, she shuts it down. She basically keeps talking so much until you can’t get a word in edge wise and you end up “agreeing” for the sake of just moving on.
Our organization is undergoing some major changes and there has been some staff turnover as well. I get it, it’s a very stressful time. I have tried to discuss some of my concerns about it and my thoughts, but she always re-directs the conversation and “railroads” it essentially.
I feel like I can’t articulate any of my own thoughts without being “attacked” for having the opinion. I have contemplated sending a well thought email explaining my frustrations and desire to discuss certain things, but I am not sure if that is a good idea. I just don’t know how I can start to “take over” an organization when I feel defeated almost everytime I talk to her.
This is giving me serious stress, anxiety and doubt. This could be a very long 2 years and then uncertainty after that. I would appreciate any thoughts, ideas or advice on how to approach this.
Post # 2
First of all, congratulations on being considered for such an impressive role! What a great opprotunity for you! It sounds like your boss put a lot of time, efort, blood, sweat and tears into her job. Although she knows she has a great replacement maybe she is worried about the transition. It sounds like she is pushing you so you can be as strong as she is, but she is pushing too hard. This happened to me a few years ago. It’s rough, it’s frustrating but eventually you will hit the point that you will “do right” in her eyes and she will trust you and calm down. I sincerely hope that is her approach! It would be awful to be bullied for two years because she doesn’t want to let go.
Post # 3
theatrejulia: I am hoping that is her intent as well. I knew that this process would be challenging and take time, but didn’t anticipate it being so stressful so fast. Thank you for your advice.
Post # 4
annonbee857: I don’t think a woman gets to that position without being good at taking charge and control (you must have this quality too, but you’re being cut off at the pass right now which is frustrating). That kind of person doesn’t like or feel comfortable giving up control to another person.
that said, she trusts you. She thinks you are the very best person for her job! That’s amazing.
You obviously share some of her traits, so view this as an opportunity to expand your flexibility. (I say that as a very stubborn person.) it’s not about you being right or your ideas being heard right now. It’s about her training you.
I don’t see that she is actually ready for you to step up yet, or wants you to. She wants to know you can, but that’s a different animal. This is going to be a hard test for you, as it’s frustrating to be cut off repeatedly, but you are up for the task!
Post # 5
Tinatiny1: I agree with what you have said. This is and will continue to be a very trying time. I am up for the challenge, it is just so mentally exhausting. I think my biggest concern and area I need to work on is dealing with uncertainty. I never knew how much uncertainty one deals with the higher you climb in leadership. It’s like the more you know, the more things that haven’t been “figured out” yet. I know that sounds naive, but it’s the truth. I am comfortable working through things, but I have to also put a strong front on for my team and employees.
Post # 6
annonbee857: you are so right, part of what makes a good leader is comforting and assuring others when things are unstable.