I have always been a pretty confident woman. I have had my struggles like most but I have always found ways to move forward and become stronger. However, one year ago in my professional life, my confidence was at an all time low.
One year ago, I was on the verge of quitting my career. Yes, quitting a job I was advocating to everyone around me. I literally was looking for jobs in a whole other field of work because of it.
My confidence in my abilities at work were at an all time low and my support system of leadership wasn’t there at work. Many of my clients were men at the time, which I never had a problem with before. However, this time a couple of them did not believe in my abilities; they instead felt the need to throw me under the bus on projects and not provide feedback to make me a better employee. Not only was I very discouraged by the treatment, I was working crazy hours to prove myself and since my confidence was a little lower I wasn’t producing the work I knew I normally could.
Employees don’t leave companies, they leave leaders
You know how the saying goes “Employees don’t leave companies they leave leaders”, I never understand the context of this until I had leaders who didn’t have the qualities of good leader, they instead chose to just look out for themselves.
Even though the other men that were my clients were great, especially one in particular, it was over shadowed by exhaustion of supporting these egoistic leaders.
After a year of having them as my client, I was on the verge of just believing I wasn’t cut out for this work that maybe I should reevaluate my careers goals.
You know that feeling when your stomach drops and you feel anxious? I felt that every time they emailed me. I would cry just thinking about the next meeting with them.
I wasn’t the strong Lisa I use to be. Instead my confidence was at a all time low.
I thought it was normal…
Over time, this feeling and this treatment kept happening that I thought it was normal. I thought ‘Just suck it up you are strong enough to handle this’.
I could have gone to Human Resources, I could have gone to other leaders but the impression they may of had on me by not being strong or not being able to handle it wasn’t the impression I wanted so I continued to just dive deeper into lower confidence then ever before.
After a long time of feeling this way, I learned I wasn’t alone. As I was working on projects with other women, they confided in me sharing about their experiences with these same men. I soon realized this WAS NOT OKAY and as a woman who wants to advocate for other women, I knew I needed to do something. These women were nothing but badasses in my eyes and I couldn’t watch them feel shitty about themselves any longer.
The Male Leader
Luckily for me, one leader in particular that was my client was the only person I knew I could confine in. During one of our weekly catch ups, I decided to raise my concerns. I asked if we could have a ‘locker room’ discussion because that meant this conversation stayed between us. He LISTENED, he gave ADVICE and then the best part he shared WHAT he would do to help. He even made sure this wasn’t the only time we talked about this, we continued to reevaluate the situation as we moved forward.
That conversation and the conversations after, helped me understand that he knew this wasn’t normal either and he did something that many leaders don’t realize make a huge impact… he had my back.
He also worked to change the culture of our function, he worked to help all the people struggling and make an impact.
My Role Model
As I watched him as a leader, I learned very quickly the type of leader I want to be and what leader I want to work with.
He trusted me as an expert in my job, he advocated for me to do the best I can and most of all he had confidence in my abilities. He helped teach me skills, he provided advice when I needed and we continued our ‘locker room’ discussion.
It has been a year since I originally wanted to quit and I can honestly say his leadership, his ability to change our culture and his ability to relate to all truly made the difference. My confidence in back to the normal Lisa level and I know that I have someone who I can truly confine in, trust and get advice from.
I have been wanting to write this article for a long time simply to say Thank You! Our society lately continues to showcase all the women empowering women and how men don’t have empowerment for women. In some cases that maybe true, but in other cases including what I have experienced with this male leader is that they do empower female employees daily.
This leader did that for me, actually he has done that for all the women in our function. Each day when I walk into the office, we walk around proud of what we do and who we are.
Employees stay for leaders
Leaders come in all shapes and forms. However, just as the saying goes “employees leave leaders not companies” the saying can also go “employees stay for leaders not just the companies”.
At the age of 27, I have had many leaders but this males leadership is truly inspiring to me, and I cannot wait to someday be just as great of a leader.
My professional confidence is back and I am so thankful for it.