Finding Margin in Business and in Life

Knowing When It’s Time to Go

We all have horror stories about work.  For those of us who have had the privilege and responsibilities associated with leading an organization, those stories seem to proliferate even more so.  With the benefit of time and space, some of these situations are humorous, even hilarious.  Yet when these situations are part of a long pervasive pattern of events, the humor quickly fades and misery sets in.  When this pattern involves the leaders of the organization, the misery for many often deepens into a state of desolation.

If this is you, what do you do?


  • Get Clarity – When you’re stuck in a miserable situation, the easiest thing to do is shutdown emotionally and run on autopilot.  You become myopic on your to-do list.  Big thinking and creativity go out the window!  You’re tired all of the time; especially at work.  This exactly when you need to take at least a week away from work.  Allow yourself to completely separate from your job.  Recent studies indicate it takes 2 – 3 days to completely disengage from work.  The more stressful it is, it could take longer to unwind.  Once the cloud of busyness, confusion and emotional drain have lifted, take time to evaluate what is going on at work, see the big picture, how you fit in to the patterns, what you could do differently.
  • Address the Pattern of Abuse – If you find those who are in leadership in your organization have a pattern of abuse and manipulation, then you can expect conflict on a regular basis.  As a leader in an organization, you are required to take this on.  For more thoughts on how to deal with this, see my post on the manipulative boss.  Whether the abuse come from the boss or not, you have to engage against the pattern and these tools have proven effective for me.   Over time you will figure out if the pattern is being broken or not.
  • Assess your Influence – When you boil down leadership to its most basic component, it comes down to influence.  Are you able to influence others in a manner that allows movement in a healthier direction.  This sounds like manipulation, however it’s not.  Influence is about using your logic, words, skills, and actions in such a way as to compel in another a change in their character or behavior.  Another way to think about the difference between the two is this:  manipulation is about control, influence is about choice.  If over a period of  time, you find you’re unable to influence any change in the negative patterns of leadership, it is likely time to move on.
  • Support Unity of Leadership – You’re responsible to encourage, participate and live out the vision, culture and direction of the company for which you work.  Unity in leadership is critical, because disunity creates confusion for the company.  If you find over time your values and beliefs are in direct conflict with the organization and you’ve been unable to influence or lead in a healthier direction, then for the sake of the organization and yourself, it is time to separate your employment.

If you find yourself in the situation described above, I would highly recommend you read Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry Cloud.  In it he provides excellent tools to systematically address what is often an emotional quagmire to muddle through.  He argues the catalyst for positive change is hopelessness, and identifies it this way:

In the absence of real, objective reasons to think that more time is going to help, it is probably time for some type of necessary ending.

Having lived this out myself, I couldn’t agree with Dr. Cloud more.

Are you stuck in the misery or moving out of it?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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