Before You Walk Out of a Job You Love

It’s that moment you feel deep in your soul that you can’t be successful in your job. Whether it’s because a team has turned on you, your boss is limiting you (while benefitting from your work), or your peers leave you isolated when you need their support. You know you’ve done great work and been loyal to your team. So what is happening?

Whisper campaigns and passive aggression are kryptonite to strong women. We don’t understand them, we don’t engage in them, and when they’re waged on us, we have no clue how to overcome them—short of leaving the jobs we worked so hard to land. 

Resistance to Strong Women Isn’t New

Centuries of social progress, one drip at a time, have done little to quell the waves of resistance experienced by assertive, high achieving women across the world. We have more women in leadership than ever before, yet most will tell you that getting there did not mean being there would be easy. In fact, high achieving women are more likely to be on the verge of quitting due to resistance, passive aggression, and professional isolation.

When these women put their hearts and souls into pushing their organizations and teams forward, workplace betrayal can come as a complete shock. It might show up as petty competition by coworkers or team members, being passed over (whether they knew it or not), or subtle silencing by bosses who directly benefit from their hard work. Those same bosses might enjoy holding them in place for years—or decades—by rewarding their successes then limiting their promotion prospects. Directness and courage in women are unsettling to others.

Personality Criticism is Common!

According to Keirin Snyder of Textio, high-achieving women are 38 times more likely to receive personality criticism in their performance reviews than their male counterparts. They receive the same (high) performance scores, but their bosses feel the need to tell them to be softer, quieter, more agreeable. In other words, don’t actually lead. Assertiveness is seen as aggression and directness is seen as abrasiveness—but only in women. Men are routinely rewarded for these traits.

When they feel they’ve tried everything to find out what we’re doing wrong but no one has anything concrete for them to act upon, they may not actually be doing anything wrong! Sure, their style can rub some people the wrong way in moments, but my clients aren’t monsters—they’re just strong women. Many work extremely hard to adjust for others’ styles. They withhold or soften our feedback and yield to others on a daily basis. So why the shunning?

This is the point where most of my clients reach out for help.

The Cost of Staying…or Going

They’ve stayed awake at night ruminating and recalculating next steps. They’ve tried to “solve for x” but it’s impossible to apply logic when it’s not a problem of logic. They’ve replayed conversations, meetings, and performance reviews. They’re working way harder than others to solve this interpersonal gap, but with little success. Bottom line is, they’re ready to call it quits.

If you can’t change how others see you, you can feel like you have no choice but to seek out a fresh start. When talented women get to this point, everyone loses if they leave. Their teams lose out on visionary leadership and courage that she’s always brought to the table. Their bosses lose the workhorse who will solve the tough problems and get the big wins. And the women themselves lose out on reaching that big goal that they always have in mind for any job they’re in. What’s worse is losing out on leaving a team healthy and happy when they go.

The Great Resignation has only exacerbated the trend of high achieving women choosing to walk rather than digging in and turning this dynamic around. I’m advocating for my clients to stay one more year. That’s it—no more, no less. It only takes a few months to completely turn their reputations around, then a few short months to make giant leaps on a big goal. And that’s where we all want to go out—on a high note.

We don’t have to lay awake at night, we don’t have to sit with our frustration over our bosses’ limitations on us. We certainly don’t have to let peers continue to circle around us like wolves. We worked hard to get into these roles—and we can apply that same commitment to renewing our workplace identities, so we can leave on good (or great) terms when we’re ready.

If this applies to you, please hang in there! You can turn it around. The world is full of people who can coach and mentor you through this, but find someone who knows this dynamic and can give you specific, actionable steps to transform your identity and impact at work. You can do it! I know this is true, because I’ve done it myself—and I am so glad I did!

One of my clients recently told me that she left her last position under these exact circumstances. She’d done everything she could think of to improve her workplace image but her credibility with the bosses didn’t recover. Although she went on to build her own business (and is very successful in it), leaving her previous job at a low-point haunts her to this day. She feels like it’s a stain on her career and worse—that it was an avoidable personal failure.

Staying One More Year Can Change Everything

The cost of staying can be high if we don’t turn things around, but the cost of leaving can be even higher. I ask clients to imagine themselves dissolving resistance to their leadership over the next six months…then spending another six months completely immersed in amazing teamwork and challenging projects that can change their organizations. That’s what staying can give you—restored confidence, relationships, and impact. What can it save you?... Regrets!

Give yourself time and invest in the art of the turnaround—a skill that will pay off over and over in this position and all of your future efforts. Heck, it can even pay off at home!

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Let's connect soon! I'd love to help you have a great year.


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