Where have all the leaders gone?
As of late, I have been having some difficulty at work. I have allowed stress to build up, and I end up losing my temper; even though I have tried to do the best that I can, and make the most of each situation. Over the last year promises were made to me that were mere lip service. I feel like everything that I have been told has been a lie; for the benefit of those above me. I have watched as others with less seniority have been promoted to higher positions, while others were appointed as leaders in positions that they knew little about. I am always the go-to guy to train and prepare these people for positions that I will never be promoted to.
I have watched silently as nepotism has taken the place of qualified help. The on-the-spot promotion of a favored new employee and the hiring of an employee’s brother-in-law. I have been repeatedly sidelined by the people with the power to promote me. I have an outstanding relationship with the people that I serve, but a tarnished relationship with my superiors. My recommendations for improving productivity and problem resolution have mostly gone ignored or dismissed, so I stopped contributing.
I work in an area that is seldom visited by my superiors, so there is not much understanding of the realities I face. I am given unrealistic demands that only serve to increase workload and harm quality to the people I serve. As my productivity and quality is negatively affected, I will unintentionally be giving ammo to my superiors to use against me in the future. I will also lose my good reputation to the people who have come to rely on my quality of work.
These things all come together in a storm of depression, anger, and helplessness. My temper is shortened, and I will end up saying something that I will regret, or worse; pay for with my job. There are millions of people all over the world struggling with the anguish of favoritism and politics at their workplace. People feel backed into a corner, with no clear options to recover. Their very careers are on the line. No doubt, they feel the stress.
Symptoms to Watch For
Trouble Concentrating. You might find it harder to focus on your work or to make sense of detailed information. Suddenly, you might have a hard time organizing what you have to do and drift from one task to another. You could forget details of long familiar procedures, fail to keep appointments or return calls, or have to read something several times before you can focus on what it means.
Lack of Motivation. The sense of urgency to complete a job could disappear. You might lose your motivation and feel indifferent toward work that used to give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. You might lose the desire to do much of anything and sit staring and inactive, as if your will to act were paralyzed.
Increased Anxiety. Meetings and dealings with people that you’ve always taken in stride might now provoke anxiety. You feel awkward, unable to articulate ideas or mentally blank out. You might even dread having to face anyone. Your anxiety can make it hard to prepare adequately, adding to the likelihood that things won’t go well.
Obsessing. While you might lose focus on much of your work, you can start getting obsessed with specific problems. Every criticism can sting and lead to endless agonizing – or defensive anger – and the intense feeling stays with you. You can’t stop thinking about mistakes you’ve made or moments that felt humiliating or people you can’t seem to get along with. You might lose sleep as that obsessive way of thinking turns into emotional torture.
Fear of Falling Apart. As your performance suffers, deadlines are missed, co-workers and your boss find you less reliable. Fear could mount about losing your job because you can’t stop whatever is going wrong. Even taking time off to pull yourself together doesn’t help. You feel might like you’re collapsing. It’s confusing and frightening. You might feel as if you can’t do anything that used to come easily, that you’re a failure. Your self-esteem takes a nosedive.
This is the extreme case. If your depression is not that severe, these symptoms and others might slow you down without throwing you into a deep crisis. However, your performance at work will suffer, and it can become clear to supervisors, co-workers, clients or customers – whoever you have to deal with in your work – that you’re no longer measuring up to your usual standard.
No matter what happens, don’t ever stop being a leader.