I was recently coaching a leader & it became clear he was navigating a lot of self-doubt. As we peeled the layers, it was clear there was a strong clash between his personal values & those shared by his organization.

There was little to no psychological safety, senior management didn’t keep their word or take accountability for not following through & there was a toxic power dynamic at play.

I see this pattern over and over. An employee in a “results at all costs” culture starts doubting their own talent, questions their feeling of belonging, and ultimately starts feeling small in an unhealthy environment.

If you can relate to this and are feeling stuck where you are, perhaps questioning your own lived experience and saying things like – “I should be strong, it isn’t as bad as I making it to be, or I should just be grateful to have a job and not question anything,” here’s both my acknowledgment of your struggles and my humble invitation to consider a different alternative.

✅ What would you tell a friend? – This is often my go-to coaching question. Imagine a friend in the exact same situation came to you, what would you tell them? What are some questions you’d ask them? What perspective or advice would you share with them? More often than not, what we tell someone we care about is different from what we tell ourselves. Explore what you can do to bridge the gap.

✅ Have a trusted partner hold up a mirror – Reach out to someone you can trust – a friend, mentor, former boss and share your situation and give them permission to speak the truth. Ask them to share what they are observing. They’ll likely validate the toxicity in your system but they may also have some insights on how you may be playing small and giving your power away.

✅ Own your power – Recognize that your worthiness ALWAYS lies within you and no manager or organization can diminish your inherent light. Having just written this I know it is much easier said than done and we live in a culture where we are conditioned to believe that our worth is our resume, the logo on our LinkedIn profile, and our paycheck. Unlearning and relearning takes time. While you do this deeper inner work, ask yourself if the cost of dimming your own light is worth what you are gaining in the process. If not, time box your suffering and do the work (on the inside to not give your power away) and on the outside to find a more psychologically safe environment to be in. 

And if this post spoke to you, here‘s another one with a similar story on how a toxic environment can affect your self-belief and confidence.

I’d love to hear from you, what else would you tell your fellow humans who may be navigating a tough season at this time?

Pic Credit: Annie Spratt

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