Editor’s Note: This article is part of an anonymous, contributor-submitted series based on real people’s personal experiences at work. The views expressed by the author don’t necessarily reflect the views of Joblogues.
Recently, I was tasked with writing my personal “leadership philosophy” to provide a lens as to what I believe leadership truly looks, sounds, and feels like. Funny thing is, it led me to recognizing all the ways in which my white female boss is an actual hater and embodies qualities that are the exact opposite of good leadership.
Early signs of a hatin’ manager
Let’s start with when my boss told me I stumbled into my job title while asking for a promotion for the second time. That’s right, “stumbled.”
I came to the conversation PREPARED. I laid the foundation asking for a title that truly encompassed the vast range of my responsibilities. She immediately became defensive assuming that my request for a promotion meant that I wanted to encroach on her territory. You see, we work on the same team but handle very different projects. My manager proceeded to tell me that I needed to “put in the work” and that since I was new to this field, I “stumbled into a great title.”
I was baffled, offended, and pissed. As I recounted all the successful stuff I have achieved, I thought, “How dare she?!” I felt the blood rush to my face and the burning desire to go off on her. I’m not new to working and am using skillsets that I brought to this job. Frankly, I have greater insight into this organization than she does due to my personal affiliation. I graduated from a top college and know I can contribute meaningfully to this team. Finally, and most importantly, I didn’t stumble into sh*t.
You can bend me, but you won’t break me
I sat there with a blank expression, fighting the urge to fly across the table. Instead, I presented the facts and impressive data highlighting my various successes in the position. My efforts fell on deaf ears. She simply shared she already “knew what my job entailed.” I almost gave up on the conversation because it was clear I was wasting my time. I composed myself though, and reiterated the projects that I still wanted to own.
I was blown away by her egregious denial of my promotion. If you say I’m deserving, what is the hold up? I produce quality work. I left that conversation feeling like the epitome of a Black woman – undervalued and overlooked.
From this conversation, I developed a few realizations about what leadership should really look like and three obvious red flags to help you recognize when you might be dealing with a hatin’ manager:
1. Greatness does not turn off
Successful leaders are not threatened by the greatness of their team members; they’re invigorated by it and actively invest time in opportunities that develop and grow their teams. My manager is threatened by my greatness. I am effortlessly able to think on my feet and never break a sweat. I remain graceful despite obstacles I face and am utilized as a strong thought partner and collaborative team player.
I wish I kept count of the number of conversations I’ve had with friends and associates who all suggested or out right said “Girl, she’s a hater!” I frequently brushed comments like that off because I naively believed she saw me as a collaborator rather than a threat. Yes, I strive to reach her level, but I don’t want her job.
2. Good leaders don’t lack self-awareness
One mark of a terrible leader is always how little they recognize the role they play in creating negative sentiment on their teams. My manager is oblivious to her lack of follow through. She is incapable of checking her own privilege. She asserts her managerial leverage at the wrong times. Her cheerful and “yes man” demeanor is clearly what got her this far. She exists in all around mediocrity and that ain’t got sh*t to do with me!
3. Leadership isn’t afraid to help you develop
It’s difficult to love your job and the work you do while feeling like your professional needs are not being cultivated. Great leaders do exist and we deserve better than individuals more concerned about their self-interests than the success of their teams. When you know better, you do better and this is something that we must believe to be true in order to attract more fruitful and positive opportunities.
I grapple with taking a back seat and remaining quiet, but at the end of the day no one will diminish my work ethic. Don’t you ever let mediocre people diminish yours either.