Work Smarter//

The Boss I Didn’t Want Was the Boss I Needed

A demotion turned out to be the ticket to winning the boss jackpot.

Nora Carol Photography/ Getty Images
Nora Carol Photography/ Getty Images

I was once queen of the world.

I had an amazing job where I was the leader of a major group at my workplace. I was on the fast track to being named a vice president of the company. I received glowing reviews, and added more and more responsibility to my portfolio.

Then I got a new boss — a narcissistic boss who was threatened by my abilities. So that boss demoted me to a place where I couldn’t threaten them. I was forced to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) just to keep the job I didn’t want. And I was told I couldn’t show up to work for a week, and I was not allowed to contact my new boss.

It was one of the most devastating experiences of my life. 

The new gig had very little in common with my old job. In fact, my strongest skill-sets were not even required for the new job. I had been a force on the sales team, growing revenues, developing new client leads, and mentoring a team of professionals.

It was like the tornado in the Wizard of Oz — I was mercilessly thrown into a strange new world where I felt lost: the business operations group. These people were accountants, analysts, statisticians. They were a community of introverts who lived and breathed numbers. I was frustrated. I was used to networking, making deals, and creating synergy. My new job was to identify data trends for potential sales growth. I wanted to scream.

I had no choice but to accept the job for the sake of my family. I told myself I would land a new job in a month or so, and I would do all I could survive until I found my new home.

On my first day of reporting for my new, lesser-paying, less prestigious job, I was told that I needed to report to my new boss’ office. His name was Tim.

I was in no mood to deal with some guy who was going to be my boss in a job I that I didn’t want. I went in with an attitude of nonchalance and contempt.

When I walked into his office, Tim rose from his desk, shook my hand, and asked me to sit at a table. The first thing he said was, “I’m sorry this happened to you.”

I burst into tears. It was the kindest thing someone had said to me in months. 

He went on to tell me he respected my work, all that I had done for the company, and that he knew I was bright and dedicated. He also told me he understood that I would need time to adjust and he did not want to push me. Then he simply asked, “What would you like to do here? How do you think you can make a difference?”

This ended up being a 90-minute conversation that was a combination of therapy and strategy. When I left his office, I actually felt lighter and more hopeful. It was an unexpected feeling in that dark time.

For the next few months, Tim and I met once a week as we crafted a plan for myself and my new team. I learned quite a bit during that time about new aspects of the company. I was surprised to find much of it interesting and relatable to the work that I had done in the past. Tim instantly became my favorite boss.

Then, six months into my time working for him, Tim was fired — by the same person who had demoted me.

Devastation returned. 

I was scared. How would I get by without this partnership that had been helping me to heal from my own disappointment?

It turns out that throughout those six months, Tim planted seeds of confidence in my soul. It gave me the courage to find new footing with my new interim boss. Those seeds blossomed into ideas that I could share with others so that I could continue with my work, to find some joy in it, and to rebuild a career that had been cut down. 

Tim and I stayed in touch. He landed on his feet, of course, because he is brilliant. To this day, he is my professional mentor. Before the demotion, I didn’t think I needed a mentor. Now, I know I always needed one, and I am so grateful for those six months of Tim.

And as for that boss who fired and demoted us? That boss was eventually fired too.

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