Recently, I connected with a high-level professional woman (let’s call her Karen) seeking coaching help to grow her career. She shared that she was ready to leave her current corporate role today, as the senior leader was terribly toxic – a true narcissist who beat her down (in verbally and emotionally erratic and abusive ways). He also did this to every other talented and successful individual in the organization because he was threatened by their brilliance, accomplishments and by their independent thinking. She was done with putting up with this abuse.
Karen also told me that there were two exciting opportunities in front of her that she was deciding on. Both had come to her through a series of serendipitous events (I don’t believe these are “accidents” by the way – I believe that fabulous opportunities present themselves for a good reason.) One was an opportunity for a role at her current level in another firm that would tap into and easily draw on the in-depth industry knowledge and skills she had amassed. All looked good except that there was one individual in the prospective company with whom she interviewed who was terrible – demeaning, belittling and dismissive. While Karen wouldn’t be working for this individual, she would need her as an ally, and it was clear that would not happen.
The second opportunity was an exciting stretch opportunity where she’d be working in the same field in which she’d become a true expert, but at a much higher level, running an organization and serving as its top leader. She’d be able to shape the direction, workforce, strategy and vision of this emerging organization. She admired all the people she’d be working with, and they shared an aligned view of how best to run, and grow, an organization.
In peeling the onion and looking at the pros and cons of each move, one thing became crystal clear. The only reason Karen hesitated to go for the amazing second opportunity was this: She said, “I don’t know if I can do it – lead a company.”
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