Two weeks ago I sat in an office to a senior person telling me how the work I do and the values I hold as a manager, as a coach of my colleague managers, doesn't matter. My ongoing work to help managers learn to better engage their people, build relationships and loyalty and share respect - I watched this person tell me that what I do is not helpful, has nothing to do with helping people, that in having mandatory meetings and 'rigour' around meetings, this is what is important...and if only I believed in people as she does.........ummmm.....??
I left that office knowing what had to be done. I had to make a decision. Can I continue to work with someone who cares so little about me, about my values, who claims to know me and my motives better than I know me and my motives?
I walked back to a little office I had taken over, and sat down. I wrote the most painful email I've ever written, to the managers in the department, stepping down from representing them. Then I crashed. Total meltdown. I couldn't figure out what the hell the problem was - this is me, I know this person is not at all important to me, this person doesn't matter to my reputation and has no impact on those who ARE important to me.....what is happening?
It took the caveman of my senior advisor to tell me to call my doctor and take a leave of absence to make me think about what was really going on....was I really giving this person all this power over me and my feelings and my career? Was I really believing what she was saying? Has she become THAT important to me??
No. Nope. Not at all. After a lot of sleep and reflection I figured out that it's this thing that makes me not able to understand some people anymore...something that's changed as I got older....
It's this total disconnection in principles. values.
I have strong principles, strong values. At work, I believe in the strength of good, experienced people in doing their work and in needing some coaching, in many cases and in other cases, just discussion or venting, or training if that's what's needed. In many cases, it's employees who need to be reminded that they're super important to the success of the team, of me in fact, and that their ongoing learning and support make my work easier, my day better and my work life way more fun....that in fact, in developing trust-relationships with people at work, and luckily for me everyone on my team in fact, we all feel better about our day and we all do better in our work....I believe in being GOOD to people - to meeting people where they are and walking with them toward a common goal...I believe in BELIEVING in people - in their humour, their solid values, their love of their own families and their own wellbeing.....and that any part I can play in supporting them, well I'm a lucky, lucky lady to get that chance.
For an hour, I forgot this stuff. I didn't forget my principles - this is ingrained - however, I forgot that people who know me, they KNOW this stuff about me. And those who matter - the IMPORTANT people - share those values.
My emotions took hold and I lost perspective.
However I was hit over the head by one person who said to me "I will drag you by your hairs (sic) if you don't call your doctor right now."
At the time I didn't see what was going on . But at this point, I can look in from outside and tell it like it is.
In another kind of language, in the language of coaching really, this person was saying to me "I care about you because you care about us, and I see where you are and you need someone to meet you there. Let's find that person."
Possibly because otherwise I'd still be locked in that little room, but more likely because he was right, I called and I found that person who met me where I was at, who supported me in figuring out what I needed....not this person who was questioning my values and my principles= and in fact telling me I am not actually living those principes, wondering why this other person couldn't see that she was dead-wrong....this person, and the people who really are important to me, they see it - without me prompting, these people reiterated on their own our shared principles, values...
I was reminded once again how important coaching is. I didn't have a formal coach in this last few weeks. Technically no 'professional' was talking with me daily about how to get through this time, ways to cope and recover. But everyone, everyone important in my life added daily wisdom and in a way, MET ME WHERE I AM to help me move forward.
One of my friends, he said " as a coach, what kind of program would you set out for yourself?"
I came home and after one more day of good, solid crying and feeling guilty for leaving my team behind in a toxic place, I started to build my own coaching program. I am solid. I am stronger. And I will come back more principled than ever. Step by step. I will not break, I will be Carter3.0...watch me. Moving from the principled evergreen tree to the confident tabby cat...
Yet again I am amazed at the power of Integral Coaching techniques. I am not sure I believe in miracles, but I believe in coaching.