In January I went to a day long event called Women.Power.Technology. There was a female speaker from Pivotal describing her experience in the technology industry. She struck a chord with me with one simple slide and phrase:
Why did I enter and why did I STAY?
About 2 weeks ago someone very close to me encountered a dilemma. She’d just come from coffee with a senior leader in her organization and was obviously rattled. She’s in the technology field, specializing in data and analytics. The organization she works for promoted her recently to a more senior role and she was struggling with being recognized as a leader and contributor. I’ll clarify – her struggle wasn’t in the tasks or workload associated with leading and contributing, it was with the people around her giving her a seat at the table. A seat she enthusiastically wanted to fill – an outlet to fuel her passion and energy into improvement and innovation. Although I don’t enjoy the term – a seat she earned millions of times over through her consistent and sustained effort.
After her hour long conversation with the leader, she walked away with one statement that has instigated a world of questioning and as she says, encapsulates “why” there’s been a struggle to contribute. The statement:
You bullied us into promoting you.
She expanded on the statement, he said that I earned and deserved the promotion, that I was going to get it, everyone agreed that I was going to get it, but that I bullied them into giving it to me.
And as with most complex stories, there’s always more context and depth than can be conveyed, but it’s irrelevant. To her, the statement helps to clarify the struggles she’s been having. Nobody wants to listen to a bully, nobody wants a bully on their team, nobody wants to continue to be bullied by the bully. Bullies are villains, so perhaps that’s what she must be in this story, the villain.
Realizing her current role as the villain and the restraints she may encounter as she continues to try to contribute and lead, I posed a question to her – one she admittedly doesn’t yet have an answer to.
What will you do if you STAY, what will you do if you go?
Instead of an answer – as I look at her I can sense heartache, her bright light seems slightly dimmer. Staying means fighting the good fight, continuing to push for change, but being an outsider. Leaving? Leaving means many things – obvious things like quitting, giving up; less obvious things like not taking it anymore, standing up for yourself.
I’m hoping her story will reach a conclusion. That she will reach a decision. For it’s only when there’s a conclusion to unresolved situations that those involved can begin to move forward.