My boss called me a drama queen the other day. I was offended to the core. When I got home and told my husband, he said, “Well, you kind of are.”
Now I am really up against it. I admit, I do have a fiery temperament—I take my work very seriously and get really passionate about things. That probably wouldn’t stick out so much except that I am an accountant by profession. I work as a senior leader in finance in a large company and am the only woman at this level. My boss and my peers are a bunch of dry, quiet numbers guys. I don’t fit in with them at all, yet they value my opinions and my work ethic. My team loves me and does amazing work, often going above and beyond. Arrgghh – what to do? –Drama Queen
Dear Drama Queen,
So what? Seriously—what if you are a drama queen? Did your boss say you have to change something or is he just poking a little fun? Is it getting in your way of doing an amazing job? Your team is on track and on point, your opinion is valued, you are respected. The only problem I see is that you have earned a label you don’t like and are taking it personally, which you really don’t need to do.
If you really want to do something, try to establish how the way you are perceived might actually be hurting you professionally. Ask your boss, peers you trust, and even your husband: “If I am a drama queen, how does it hurt me? How might I change it to be more effective?” Gather some real intel—and get ready, because you will hear conflicting advice from people.
If you are a shouter, if you use inappropriate language, or if you blow things way out of proportion you will hear about it and you can cut that out. For lesser infractions, once you have a few ideas, choose behavioral modifications you think you can actually manage. As an example, you may try noticing when you are heating up and excuse yourself for a moment. Take a deep breath, count to ten, modulate. I have yet to see anyone succeed at getting a total personality transplant—but if you can apply a modicum of self regulation at certain moments you can call this project a success.
On the other hand, it is a great thing to care and be passionate for ideas, doing the right thing, and making the best decisions—so don’t back down just because you may make some people uncomfortable. As Ken Blanchard says, “You have to take your job seriously but yourself lightly.” Don’t get yourself in too much of a tizzy over this.
About the author
Madeleine Homan-Blanchard is a master certified coach, author, speaker, and cofounder of Blanchard Coaching Services. Madeleine’s Advice for the Well Intentioned Manager is a regular Saturday feature for a very select group: well intentioned managers. Leadership is hard—and the more you care, the harder it gets. Join us here each week for insight, resources, and conversation.
Got a question for Madeleine? Email Madeleine and look for your response here next week!