So my boss keeps asking me about my decision following our discussion about the possibility of my taking over from him. I keep telling him that I am “ thinking about it because I am not sure I can fill your shoes.” I say this to flatter him and to get him off my back.
I need to find a way of telling him that I really do not want to sit in the business leadership team- this is like making myself a target for firing.
It is funny that it is actually Shiro who advised me against taking the job. She had some interesting insights: “you do not want a job with targets in this economy. If the numbers do not add up, they will blame you for the failure. Right now you need to stay under the radar.”
Shiro’s advice was validated by a conversation that I had with the head of business development. He happened to join me in the canteen over lunch. Before we finished our meal, I saw him pop some pills into his mouth.
“Boss, are you unwell?” I asked him.
In typical Kenyan style he said, “ I am not too bad- just the doctor who has put me on medicine for my ulcers. From my assessment, I could tell that the guy is in his early thirties, so I joked and told him,” you look too young to have stress and ulcers.” He chuckled and said, “ you need to know the stress I am under.”
He proceeded to share his woes. In a nutshell, the guy said, “ none of the business proposals I have worked on in the last year have closed. So we are still behind on numbers.”
I tried to console him: “ No one can blame you, surely everyone knows the state of the economy.” He laughed and said, “ let me tell you about this company, they do not care about the economy- they care about results. You do not deliver you are out of the door.” He then gave me a history of other employees who have been “shown the door for not delivering.”
At the end of his long whining session he said, “ you are lucky – you are in strategy. No one will blame you if it fails since they all have to sign up to it. Plus you are the no.2. your head is not on the line.”
This was just the kind of chat I needed to make my decision. I had to find a way of telling my boss that I will not be pushing for his job for now.
As I walked out of the canteen, my phone rang. It was Shiro. She rarely calls me during the day and so my first line was,” Babes is everything okay?” She sounded super excited and was out of breath as she said, “ I have some good news for you, my vision of coming home is shaping up.”
I was taken aback for I thought the comeback-home plan had disappeared. Shiro then went on to tell me, “ I have been speaking to some headhunters about a COO role for the last one month.” She did not even give me a chance to ask her why she had not told me about it earlier as she said, “now it is down just two of us and they want us to meet the board chairman.” I was not sure what to say so I kept quiet. This did not stop her as she said,” I fly in home tomorrow for the interview, so I wanted to find out if you need anything for yourself or the kids.” All I could say was, “nothing for now.” I was fuming as I hang up-why is Shiro keeping secrets from me?