My goal was to build up a technical service division from scratch. That was a challenge. But Top Management gave me the resources to hire the right people and to build service teams all over the world.
Leading my team
In that time I learned a lot about how to manage people. And I really enjoyed leading and working with my team. My team connected with my strategy and with my service vision. They also had great ideas and so we got more and more business. Our division was profitable. After a few years my team grew to 350 service employees worldwide.
In that time I traveled a lot in order to support my team. I liked traveling but especially I loved working with my team.
The problem was something else: I got more and more frustrated strange decisions of my superiors and with burocracy: You Know typical corporate rules, hidden agendas and political games: I hated it!
Decisions I needed from top management took longer and longer. It was tenacious.
Change of strategy
Then Top management shifted focus. They changed the company strategy. In their new strategy services were not that important any longer. Of course, I was convinced that this was wrong.
And I didn’t hold back to talk and complain about this mistake. I was annoyed. I remember that I even told the board that I not just don’t agree but that I think this is a totally stupid decision. Yep. I was not very diplomatic.
First lesson here: If you bluntly tell some board members what you think about their stupid decision: That can feel very good. Yesss. – But it only lasts shortly.
From a long term perspective it is not a good idea to behave like this. Don’t do it. Just don’t! You will not achieve what you want.
“You cannot convince someone by making him an idiot.”
Also I was sure some of these board members … but let’s better stop here.
Let’s put it like this: I got more and more into conflict with some board members. I spend more time on company politics than on growing our service business. That’s why I became frustrated and sometimes even grumpy.
I had regular one-on-one meetings with my direct reports. In one of these one-on-ones my operations manager told me:
„Bernd, it seems that you lost your vision as a leader.“
That hit me hard. It hurt because I was proud of my team and I was proud to lead this team. And now I got the feedback from one of my valued team members that I lost my vision. That was difficult to swallow.
Working with a business coach
Fortunatly, in that time Human Resources offered me to work with a business coach. It seemed that Top Management still wanted me to stay in the company. They didn’t want me to quit. But they wanted me to become a better corporate manager and to play by the rules.
I liked the idea to work with a business coach: Someone who is independent and has no stake in the company: That can be helpful, right?
And that’s what happened. Working with this business coach helped me to better understand my role as a manager. He made it clear that decisions taken by top management weren‘t my responsibility. In my role it was expected that I either accept it or that I have to quit and leave the company.
But I couldn’t accept the strategy change because it would have a negative impact on the services my team and me built up over the years.
Time to leave my job?
So, I thought I needed to leave. That’s why I applied for manager jobs in other companies. And I got some exciting and even higher paid job offers. And to be honest my existing salary was already quite high.
But I didn’t took any of the job offers.
I remember one situation vividly: I applied for an interesting new job and I got invited for an interview with the CEO. When I arrived at the building of this company I looked around. It was a nice office compley similar to the one where my office was.
And in this moment it struck me:
Even if I changed my job and even if I started somewhere else as an employed manager, it would be the same. After some time it would become the same corporate rat race. Someone would take a decision I can’t accept,and then I would be in the same situation. And in that moment I felt that this is not what I want.
It was not my employer who was wrong nor the – in my view – stupid board managers. It were even not the burocratic corporate structures. The problem was that I didn‘t fit into corporate systems any longer.
It still took some months for me to take the decision and to quit my job. I mean it was hard for me to quit my job because I quit working with the team I lead over 9 years. And of course it is also not easy to become self employed and to start your own business.
But it’s worse to stay in a job you don’t like and which makes you miserable.
Dave Ramsey is spot on:
“When your spirit leaves, take your body with it!“
You have to live by your values!
And I learned that my most important values are freedom and self determination. That’s why I started my own business. A corporate job is not bad. It was good for me for a certain time, but it wasn’t the right job for me any longer.
Today I work as a leadership and business coach,helping others to become the leader they always wanted to be. In that job I can live by my values and it’s exactly what I want to do.
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The inspiring quote
“When your spirit leaves, take your body with it!“