As a leader, I had to have many difficult conversations in my career. But as I reflect back, there was one conversation that took place several years ago that stood out above the rest as the most difficult.
In the organization I worked at, we would regularly have conversations about analysts who had the potential and interest to move into a leadership position. If everyone agreed, these analysts would be placed on a “promotability list”. This list would have multiple levels. Being placed in the top category indicated that they were ready to take on a leadership position.
One of my team members was in that top category when our leadership team had their regular conversation about our area’s candidates. At that time, there was very little movement of analysts into leadership. As a result, there was new criteria applied to those on the list. As a result, my team member was not approved to stay on the list. They were not going to be moved back a level on the list, but taken off the list completely, which was very unusual. As their leader, I would have to communicate this news to them. But I was going to be out of the office on a previously scheduled vacation before our meeting. Needless to say, I thought about our meeting a lot during my vacation. Continue reading