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Of Martha Stewart & downsized leaders

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

The leader who’s suddenly underemployed—through downsizing, demotion or simply a lucky exit from a very bad job—should heed the reminder that Martha Stewart heard before she packed off to prison: You’re no longer the boss.

This attitude adjustment can prove difficult for those used to giving orders, not taking them ... especially for those downsized into nonmanagerial jobs.

In that case, lie low until you understand your new circumstances. Ask lots of questions. Instead of jumping in with strong opinions, which may come off sounding like commands, gently suggest changes.

Avoid appearing competitive with your peers, and act even more self-effacing with your boss. Because, as harmless as you may consider yourself, your wealth of experience may threaten your new colleagues. They will undercut you if they feel you’re endangering their jobs or their work in any way.

This low-key approach might make you feel exceedingly passive. You might think your efforts are going to waste. Rest assured. If your new organization is worth its salt, someone will be listening. You won’t remain underemployed forever.

And whatever happens, at least you’re not in the big house.

— Adapted from “Going to Prison? You Might Need a Little Advice,” Ben White and Carrie Johnson, The Washington Post.

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