I learned many years ago that in order to be a leader, you couldn’t be afraid of being fired. So often the right choice is not always the easy/popular/expected one, but you have to be willing to risk your safety for the cause. I say this understanding how easy it is to say but tough to do. Despite pushing the boundaries multiple times, I’ve been lucky that I’ve never faced the situation of being fired. And I do use the word ‘lucky’ intentionally as I’ve seen once a really great leader be fired for his challenging the status quo. Given that I’m human, I can say this all day long but the fear does linger. So I’ve done a few things to help myself not answer to this fear:
- Build a few months of savings. I know this is expressed by any financial person but it does matter when you think I could support my family for at least 3 months before I was in trouble.
- Build networks outside of your current company. Things happen, is your network only within the one place that no longer helps?
- Keep your resume and cover letter updated. I’m not saying every month but occasionally, update everything. This is not only great for not feeling so overwhelmed with all the things you need when you do begin a job search but a great reflection opportunity for what you’ve learned and accomplished.
- Remind yourself that what your team needs is a leader.
Recently, I’ve learned I needed to become unafraid in another aspect of leadership: the willingness to accept when something wasn’t the right fit. Up until this point in my career, I’ve pretty much went into a role and found success. I was never concerned with titles, as leadership is about influencing and inspiring not authority. However, what I didn’t take into account was how much my dreams/goals influence my unwillingness to settle for “good”. I want to create and sustain “best job ever” environments. Why would anyone settle for less? Yet, I found myself in a situation that despite all around good intentions, the mutual agreement (what I was looking for in this hire and what the company was looking for in this hire) can’t be met. I struggled with “do I keep trying?”, “will it change eventually?”, “I am helping in many ways, could that be enough?”. Ultimately, my answer was no but it was a super difficult answer because I was afraid. I was afraid that it meant I failed. I was afraid that it meant I failed others. I was afraid how leaving in a year would be perceived. I was afraid of sending the message that others should leave to – as this was a personal decision for me.
I’m so very thankful to many friends, coaches and mentors that helped me think this decision through. None of them made the decision for me but instead helped me to be what I advocate about…being unafraid. So here’s what I came to learn:
- I know what’s possible. I’ve read about it. I’ve seen it. I’ve been a part of it. I don’t want to settle for less. And that’s ok.
- I don’t expect things to happen over night. In fact, I love the work to get there. However, I have to feel that it’s possible and that the end goal is not just good.
- Sometimes people and current situations just don’t align. That’s not a reflection on the person or the company, just reality.
- This is my personal decision, due to my goals/skills/beliefs. To best help as others, I have to take care of me too.
- Even the best interviewers and interviewees don’t always get it right and the result needs to be accepted.
So as a result, I have resigned from Pearson (effective June 5th). There are many amazing people there that I will miss so much. In particular, my team: Cale, Patrick, Julia, Yelena, Trish, Cherie, Michelle, Kelly, Zahra, Mario, Tanya…thank you for making this a very difficult decision!