I’ve written previously about Ira Chaleff’s book The Courageous Follower. The first and most important courage is to look inward and assume responsibility for yourself. That continuous inward journey is the foundation for right relationship between followers and leaders. After looking inward, the courageous follower can look outward, first to serve the purposeful leader, then to challenge the leader who has strayed from the shared purpose, and to help the leader transform.
Concerns about our leader’s policies or behavior should always be taken to that person first, unless they are doing something illegal (e.g. sexual harassment). If we give our leader opportunities to respond and they don’t, then we are justified in appealing to higher authorities in our organization. And if those appeals up the chain fail, we have to decide whether to leave or to stay.
If you stay, you need to understand clearly that you have no voice and your organization and its leaders do not care about you. I personally find that totally unacceptable. Work is a big and important part of all our lives, and we owe it to ourselves and our families to spend that time with people that share our values.
Leaving is rarely easy. It is risky and expensive. It can be emotional because it can often mean leaving behind some good friends. It is also terribly disappointing because you know you do your job well and you deserve better. But if you are a good performer in dysfunctional or toxic work environment, and you gave a good faith effort to help address the problems, if things don’t change I think you should leave as soon as possible.
Sometimes just the threat of resignation will be enough to convey the depth of your concerns and cause change, but don’t threaten to resign until you are prepared to go through with it.
I need to give you my two-cents worth on how to prepare to move on and how to look for a new job differently so you don’t end up in the same boat again, so stay tuned.