Trapped into Leadership

I have a friend that has worked for the same (stuffy, old school) firm since graduating college over 10 years ago. He worked in the same department for years and at one point managed a few people and that was OK. He wanted to move into another position and the obvious choice was to be a location manager. He said it is what he wanted and moved out of state to pursue the opportunity. I have watched him in this position for the past 1 ½ years knowing all along he was not happy. Noticing he is disengaged, my husband often gives him a hard time that he doesn’t read his industry’s news and blogs to keep up. I don’t. Clearly, it doesn’t interest him or he would naturally be drawn to it.

He wasn’t content in his last position and he is not happy managing the people in the very same position. He approached his boss and asked about moving into another role entirely. He feels it is a better fit to make that change. He was told he would have to step back into his last position and remain in that position for 2 years before even being considered for that new role. Stepping back into the last position would be a substantial pay cut for only a chance to move into this other role. His only other option is to stay where he is.

Of course, he is going to leave eventually. He feels trapped and has already sent me his resume to look over. We have sat down a few times and discussed what is important to him in a career. Not once has he mentioned leading people. He is great one on one and really enjoys directly advising one client at a time. He was forced into managing a whole office, including all the administration and due diligence that comes along with it. I am sure he is good at his job but he is not passionate about it. I hate that. I don’t think he actually knows how it would feel to really enjoy what he does for a living.

This friend is great at managing processes. This friend was forced to be a leader. If he reads this he may even take offense to this post not realizing that I only wrote this out of my own concern for his happiness. No wonder he is confused. He was conditioned to believe stepping back is failure instead of a redirect into what really may be a great fit and a place he can be successful and happy.

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