“I quit my job, today.”
That statement left mouths hanging open in disbelief. I had just been promoted into the position I coveted for years.
From the outside looking in I had my career by the ass. I was dubbed “bull in a china shop” by several fun loving coworkers. I made friends. I helped coworkers and subordinates get promotions. I was fair and I truly believed I was making a difference. I built kick-ass teams. I crushed goals. I was a good mentor and a fair boss. I’m not perfect; there were times I could have done things better. We are all human. But I owned my mistakes, accepted criticism and always promised myself to do better, and I did.
Here’s why: I wasn’t respected. The same people that gave me my promotion also destroyed my confidence. I was hired into my new kick-ass role at a significantly lower salary than my male predecessor. Yes, ladies and gentleman that is still happening. Of course, I countered, asking for the same pay he had been making. I was told that my boss was very impressed with me countering the offer. “Women” generally don’t ask for “higher salaries” and my “Sheryl Sandberg approach” was why they wanted me in that role.
At the end of the conversation the original offer stood. You can’t make this stuff up. I won’t quote exactly what was said. It’s truly an embarrassment for them and for me. I should have quit on the spot after receiving that response.
My company treated me like little Cindy Lou Who, giving me a glass of warm milk and patting me on the back. I was made to feel “cute” in my want for equality. It was a hard pill to swallow. I was so naive. I watched similar things happen over the years to coworkers. I always chalked it up to them not working hard enough. I shouldn’t have been shocked but I was.
I was pissed.
I’ve watched others leave that company since I left. Some have called me to thank me for giving them courage.
No matter how much you love your job, you have to love yourself more. It will be hard, I can guarantee that. You will struggle, you will fall but you will find the ground again. When you finally stand, you will realize how much better you are for it.
I didn’t realize at the time the impact it had on others when I quit. I learned leadership is not a title or a salary. Pushing your opinions down someone’s throat is not leading them. It takes courage to lead. It won’t always be pretty but it should always feel right. Leadership is accepting who you are and helping others find who they are. The best leaders trust their gut and refuse mediocracy from themselves. Leadership is unintentionally inspiring others, through your beliefs and actions.
Quitting my job gave me the courage to trust my gut. It gave me the confidence to lean in and inadvertently inspire others to do the same. That’s a better feeling than any “promotion” I’ve ever received.