Updated: Dec 11, 2020
The rise up the corporate ladder is often an uphill battle with unexpected consequences.
Not until recently did I ask my current management staff about what impression people had of me in the past. I guess because I never cared as I had a job to do and never let anything or anyone get in my way, but now that I’m writing these blogs it came up and I was not prepared for what came out of their mouths. Not in so many words the impression I left on people is that I was the Tasmanian Devil. From the moment I walked in the door, I wanted to know everything about everything. This is what makes me the jack of all trades. People found it intimidating that I was able to learn the inner-workings of their job and departments, so quickly and willing to make suggestions for improving people and departments that I did not even work in. I would literally turn a department upside down, put all the pieces back together in a cohesive, efficient, and more productive manner and then give it back to the person who should have done it. That person would then dislike me as their entire staff admired my abilities over theirs.
“People found it intimidating that I was able to learn the inner-workings of their job and departments, so quickly and willing to make suggestions for improving people and departments that I did not even work in.”
And then there was the bomb they dropped on me that the majority owner and I were perceived to be having an inappropriate relationship. What no one realized was that the majority owner trusted me more than his entire management staff and we spoke regularly about the many shortcomings of the company structure and inabilities of senior management. All the while, I was not a member of his senior management staff. I was, however, a trusted confidant that was truthful with him about business and his own shortcomings. In some instances, I found myself being his moral compass for making decisions. To set the record straight the majority owner and I have never had anything but a business relationship. So, for everyone that thinks I slept my way to the top, I did not. If I was a man writing this blog, I would not even have to bring this up, but because I’m a woman and he is a man, I had to waste this paragraph on the stupidity of others making excuses for a female’s success.
What I did for the majority owner was something no one else could do for him and many that have worked for him would never believe. I stood by him while others were taking advantage of him. I saw him differently than they did. He exposed his weaknesses to me and asked me for help without asking. He brought me into his world for help. He knew he was being taken advantage of, but he did not know how to stop it. He is not a good judge of character. He took face value as truth and allowed people to continually manipulate him into believing they were grander than they were. He surrounded himself with book smart people to compensate for what he considered his weaknesses. What he failed to realize is that his shortcomings did not make him any less intelligent, but he overcompensated for them.
It was years before he finally shared this with me. I was honored he entrusted me with this knowledge at the same time it revealed a secret he had been keeping tight to his chest. It brought clarity to many situations I would have otherwise perceived differently. To be in the position of CEO and majority owner with an educational hinderance was impressive, but few knew. It did not hinder his ability to achieve goals he set out to conquer. When he took over the company, he surrounded himself around people that were relatable to him and they were successful as a team of three conquering commercial lending from both the private and public sectors. I have tremendous admiration for his original senior management team.
From that original team something went awry. Maybe it was that they had never imagined grand success they were achieving, maybe it was outside influences suggesting a need for higher level industry experience, maybe they were in over their heads and not willing to admit it, or maybe it was poor management from the top down. Nevertheless, they got too big for their britches and the cracks were obvious to me as a new employee coming in with a higher skill level than I was hired for. The companies grew too big too fast without the proper foundation built to sustain real estate corrections.
Their misfortune lead to my success. It was my job to make all the wrongs, right. These lessons gave me a foundation upon which to rebuild. And I am not talking about a twig house. First, I had to dig out of the mess, so I opted for concrete support pillars while I was underground and then brick by brick, we slowly rebuilt the empire I walked into in 2005.