How to relate with a politically hostile peer leader at the workplace (1)


Hello Dr Toye Sobande,

I have been following your leadership questions series, but I noticed you had discontinued that series.

Please may I appeal that you leave that window open for us? It is an opportunity for those of us in leadership positions to engage your expertise on critical issues confronting us at work.

I had initially drafted a mail some weeks back that I intended to send to you, but I didn’t send it, and then I saw the review about your new book in the BusinessDay Weekender. The title of the book is very apt, and that is what prompted me to send this email.

I work as a senior executive at a global financial services firm. I am one of the very few women in the firm, and my problem is with one of them. She is a peer to me, and we have very different but overlapping roles.

The fundamental problem is that she meddles in my departmental activities, manipulates the system to change my decisions on products and services without consulting me, and dishes out instructions to my team members, and the guys are too afraid of her that they don’t mention it to me when she goes backstabbing me to other management executives.

Some of these people report to me and are thoroughly confused and stressed out about who is in charge.

The decisions she change are not hers to change. Sometimes they are decent, other times not so much. She has a different skill set from me.

I have a masters in financial technology and services, but she does not have a masters degree, and she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know.

Often, I had to put in extra hours at work to correct the implications of her decisions, or we risk jeopardizing our firm’s core business.

Honestly, I would be happy to get her input and consider it, but she does not have wow ideas. I have spoken to her a few times about her actions and even pleaded for her to stop meddling with my departmental work.

She is so two-faced that she is so nice and always very cordial and courteous and agrees to stop, but then she does something worse every time, claiming she is trying to help.

The leadership process is an art, and it involves practicing mindfulness and self-awareness as a skill. However, you must be conscious that your team members are not restricted to your direct reports alone; it includes a broader network of peers that you rely on but do not control

She is very political and manipulative. I have escalated the matter and asked our boss to meet with both of us to clarify our roles and responsibilities, but he grumbles and says, “you ladies need to work this thing out and come to an understanding.” Sadly, he referred several times to our conflict as a “catfight.” Which I find very insulting.

This situation has been going on for years, and I have just let it roll off my back, even though it is frustrating. The workload has been so intense that I figured I should keep my head down, and it would work itself out. But was I wrong? It has gone from bad to worse. Things came to a head recently when she started corresponding with a client I am working with, and my boss was in the copy of the mail, and she compelled my team to change the terms of an agreement with the client in the middle of a project being executed, which has now caused the firm to pay more for variations of the scope of work.

The client’s lawyers wrote to us about a breach of contract when the firm refused to pay, and we had to settle amicably and parted with more money than we budgeted. Now I am being held accountable for overshooting the budget and inflating costs. I explained to the financial director what had happened, but he didn’t care. He is insisting it is still my fault, and it will affect my budgetary allocation as well as my annual bonus.

Honestly, I see my adversary and my boss together all the time. They always go out for lunch together while I am busy cleaning up the mess she created.

Read also: Why leaders must defeat a toxic workplace culture

I don’t know how she does it, but she has gotten friendly with the big boys’ club that runs the whole company, and she has cowed my entire team into acting like she is my boss. I suspect she and my boss are working together while pretending to be neutral.

Of course, I have no proof of this. I complained to the Director in charge of HR, but the solution was to get me a coach to help me work on my interpersonal and communication skills. My interpersonal and communication skills have never been a problem in my 18-year career. However, the coaching sessions have been therapeutic for me in venting and finding some tactical turnarounds.

At this point, I am at my wit’s end with this situation. I strongly believe something has to give because I am mentally and emotionally drained, I am not sleeping, and I am just a total stress case. I would appreciate your thoughts.

Non-Political Leader

The leadership process is an art, and it involves practicing mindfulness and self-awareness as a skill.

However, you must be conscious that your team members are not restricted to your direct reports alone; it includes a broader network of peers that you rely on but do not control.

Next week, I will respond to this email and explain how the reader can navigate her experience with office politics despite being talented, hard-working, and having the best intentions.


Source link

Related posts

In Mark Making, Chijioke Onuora delves into his long romance with cultural lines

Imperative of massive youth education to reducing Africa’s poverty

Rolling away illegal e-waste shipments from Nigeria