Dear Dr. Graham:

I’ve heard rumors that my boss is planning to move two people off the team I manage. I think that’s true because she recently said she’s thinking about reorganizing, and she spent some time one-on-one with my team members. I’m worried this is the beginning of the end for me. My boss must think I can’t manage all my people. Honestly, I’m pretty angry. I think I’ve done good work for her.

Why would she want to ruin my career?

Agitated in Atlanta

Dear Agitated,

First, let me say the story you’ve pieced together may be true. But there’s also the possibility that it may not be true.  Our brains are wired to create explanations that tie data together in a sensible way, so we tend to use whatever limited information we receive to create stories – true or untrue — in our heads.

Once we’ve told ourselves a story, it’s hard to consider other explanations. Could it be that your boss is reorganizing to make sure you have time for new responsibilities or a project she has planned for you? Could she be moving those people off your team so she can move others onto your team?  Or maybe the rumor that your boss is planning to move members of your team isn’t true at all!

Effective leaders learn to challenge the stories they tell themselves. They understand that since our behaviors reflect our self-told stories, those stories can become self-fulfilling prophecies. Let’s say the reorganization your boss mentioned includes more responsibility for you. If your story makes you so agitated that you seem icy or defensive around her, she might rethink those plans.

The following link features Dr. Brene Brown discussing the stories we tell ourselves, how we are easily hooked by the emotion evoked by those stories, and the importance of getting curious about their accuracy: click here. Starting this fall, Dr. Julie McDonald and I are excited to be offering Dr. Brown’s Dare to Lead ™ curriculum in addition to our flagship Transforming Success program. Both provide an excellent foundation in the self-awareness and self-management skills essential to effective and courageous leadership.

Register now for our February 2024 Dare to Lead™ workshop!Learn more