A Love Letter to the Women who Work for me

Photo by katrinaelsi, https://www.flickr.com/photos/lyrabellacqua/2413965754/

Photo by katrinaelsi, https://www.flickr.com/photos/lyrabellacqua/2413965754/

Ugh. Y’all. I tried really hard not to write this thing, because it is so stereotypically female and EMOTIONAL. God forbid. Corporate leaders are not supposed to be emotional.

But bless your hearts, you didn’t get the perfect corporate leader, you got me.

And I’ve known I needed to write this blog post since Monday. I swear, I’ve been running from it, trying to shove it down and sit on it so I can’t hear it any more, and covering it up with distractions when necessary. But it keeps finding me in inadvertent moments of silence—when I’m walking to a meeting, lying in bed, or in the shower.

It even followed me home tonight, threatening to beat me up and hold me down, standing on my chest to keep me awake all hours until I wrote this.  And you, of all the people in the world, know how grumpy and useless I am when I don’t get enough sleep. So for the good of all that is sacred and holy, I’m writing this down so I can rest.

So here goes.

Since one of you experienced some personal sadness this week, I’ve been trying to figure out the proper Boss Response. How should Super Boss respond to the kind of sadness that they don’t make sympathy cards for, but that still invades your daily activities? I hate to admit that I have no idea.

I’ve also been trying to figure out the proper Human Response to your personal sadness, but I haven’t come up with much there, either.   (I blame my college registrar for failing to ensure that I took the Adulting 101 Course; I secretly feel that everyone else in the world mastered the curriculum, while I still regularly try to figure out what my face should be doing when someone is telling me a boring story.)

And as I consider this conundrum, I’ve been walking past your desks and wishing you could see yourselves the way I do. I wonder what would be different if you truly understood how beautiful, how brilliant, how amazing you are.

Look, I get it. You’re not perfect, and neither am I. We all have things we need to work on, our very own “opportunities for improvement.” But this letter isn’t about those things, because I have a feeling that most of you are well aware of what your particular “opportunities” are.

But I wonder how our company would be different if you strode into work every day understanding your true value, your full power. What if you swept in, sure of your abilities and unique skills, ready to tackle the big, important problems of our industry and organization, unfazed by the various personalities that sometimes make our work difficult (if not a momentary pain in the ass)? What if you truly knew how important you are?

So, for your sake and our work’s sake, I want to tell you what I really think about you.

To The One Who Works Off Site, I wish you could see how EVERYONE who meets you falls in love with you instantly. You should have seen all the gushing emails I received about you when you were brand new! You may not be crushing each and every goal, but you are achieving so many of them that we keep having to move the goal posts. You have so many amazing gifts, and you need to be sharing them in other ways than just the work you do for us. Write that book, baby. You need to write it and we need to read it. (Even if it is incredibly gory.) It will still change the world.

To The Newest Mom, I want you to know that you are doing a great job. I know the kind of product you turn out at work, so I am entirely confident that you are a spectacular mom at home. We are all in awe of your “customer service” abilities, including the way you keep a sweet and easy tone with people who are verbally berating you. But let me tell you that people don’t like you just because you’re nice and pretty and funny and snarky. They like you because you are YOU. So please breathe easy. You are doing enough. You have done enough. You ARE enough.

To The Newest Member of the Team, I wish you, especially, could see yourself through everyone else’s eyes. You don’t need to eat a can of green beans for lunch every day to feel good about yourself—you are literally gorgeous. And you don’t have to question your ideas. They’re always grand and lovely and just barely out of reach. (And those, of course, are the best kind.) We tease you about burying the lead, but you are amazing at what you do because you have a killer journalist instinct. Thank you for always finding a pitchable spin on the things someone wants us to publicize but that I am repeatedly sure no one will care about. (The snoozers.) You are kicking butt here.

And To The One Who Always Looks On The Bright Side, thank you for being the calm and steady voice of reason and regular provider of snark. When I am sure that Those People are all idiots and just maliciously, purposefully stupid, you find a way to make me laugh and lighten up. You have spot-on insights and a stellar judgment muscle. I am so proud of the BIG STEPS you’ve taken this year and the future development you’ve set yourself up for. You’ve been considering these things for a while, and now you’re DOING them! Great things are starting and moving and happening, and you deserve each one of them and more.

I wish you all could see how incredibly gorgeous each and every one of you is. And I don’t mean in a “she has a beautiful soul” kind of way or a “her personality makes her pretty” sense. I mean in a real, physical, you-are-beautiful kind of way. I see you over 71% of the days in the week, so I know what you look like. And you look amazing. (And even if I don’t see you daily, I regularly see you when you’ve rolled out of bed at 3 a.m., and if you can look THAT good on THAT little sleep, I feel confident that you look amazing daily.)

Ladies, I’ve been with our company for 10-and-a-half years, and I’ve done a lot of BIG things. The latest project I’ve taken on has been really financially successful and incredibly important for our organization in every domestic region we serve. But I can tell you, hands down, that hiring all of you is the best thing I’ve done here.

So when you come in to work in the morning, hold your head high. Sweep in like the Queen of Health Care that you are. Our company will only benefit from women like you operating at the absolute top of their game.

And you know what? Our world needs it, too.

Tomorrow, remind me to tell you the story about how I got promoted to my first executive position and questioned it every step of the way.

I even called the new VP of HR and told her that I wasn’t sure my boss should’ve promoted me.

Looking at it now, I know why I reacted that way, and one BIG REASON was that I didn’t really believe in myself. I was so preoccupied with all the things I wasn’t that I missed all the things I was.

And the truth was that I had been doing executive-level work for many, many years. I earned that position.

But I don’t want that to happen to any of you. That’s why I make each of you brag on yourselves at our weekly team meeting—because I don’t want you to miss any opportunities to recognize and internalize all the amazing things you’re doing.

I am, though, definitely bringing a balance sheet to one of our future meetings. I’m SERIOUS about all of you learning budgets, whether you like it or not. You shouldn’t have to learn it the hard way like I did.

Regardless, though, I want you to learn just how spectacular you are.

So keep doing what you’re doing, but please just do it with the firm understanding that You. Are. Amazing.

And I’m so lucky to be your boss.


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