When Failing

December 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

We were half an hour into the meeting when someone asked, “What’s the objective of this meeting?” We had been taking about the rumour that there might be a department reorganization instead.

I had called the meeting, but I sincerely could not remember anymore why. It must have been important because Paul was there and he was usually only called in on an emergency basis to deal with crises that required problem solving, something he excelled at. His time was precious and had to be called on only sparingly, on an as needed basis. 

They were all looking at me. I was the senior most person in the room, supposedly, except for Paul. In my line of work that did not come with any actual power since I have no staff, nor was I responsible for particular outcomes, but the implicit assumption was that I would nevertheless take on some sort of nebulous and ill-defined role where I would provide guidance and advice to others without clearly being told to do so by management.

I could feel the hot flush on my cheeks. I turned to Paul and said, “Would you like to start Paul?” Because Paul was bright and quick on his feet, he did.

Shamed and embarrassed, I did not deserve the attention and time of this room full of people who were looking to me for something I could not give them.

When I had applied for this job, the job description was full of words like “leadership”, “coordination”, “expertise” and “synergies”. It sounded good and it turns out it was good on paper only. Because management managed only in name, my job was elusive at least to me, so I tried to lead by example and by saying smart, incisive things that other people might want to quote me on.

Now I regretted ever applying for this job in government, where I had thought mistakenly I could make a difference.

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