The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “Who do you turn to in a crisis and why?” is written by Lori Mitchell-Keller, global general manager at SAP Consumer Industries.
One thing you can count on in life is that things will go wrong at the most inopportune times. Crises come in all different forms—customer concerns, competitive threats, your child falling off the jungle gym. We can’t predict them, but we all must face them.
One way I’ve found to help deal with those crises is to have an underlying support system. I’m a firm believer that we all need various mentors, coaches, and other supporters for the different crises we will face. Often when a crisis first occurs, I’m not sure who the best person is to help me fix it. But I do know that one of the people in my close network will know. I’ve learned throughout my career to not be afraid to ask for support. I need to find the right person to help me fix an issue, regardless of how ignorant I think my question may sound.
The most challenging crisis I’ve faced in the past few years was building up slowly: Boredom was creeping into my career. As we all know, it’s difficult to do fantastic work if you’re not passionate about it. I had been in the same domain for most of my career and felt like I had already faced and overcome all of its challenges. New things to learn were becoming few and far between. I had already stepped up and taken on tasks peripheral to my position to keep me passionate and engaged, but I felt I had extended my role as far as I could. The idea of learning something new each day is what keeps me jumping out of bed in the morning with excitement. I wasn’t jumping out of bed anymore.
I decided that the best path was to leave my company. Out of respect for my closest mentor, who had brought me there, I shared my decision with him. His first reaction was to ask if I wanted him to find me a new position within the company. I recoiled at the thought that someone would hire me only because my former boss had asked them to. When I declined his offer, he encouraged me to take a few weeks and work my network to see if I could find something.
I did exactly that. I poured my passion into finding a field that I could rejuvenate; I love fixing issues at organizations. But to my dismay, I didn’t find anything that seemed fitting. On our next call, my mentor asked me if I would be interested in tackling a difficult situation at another department within our company. While this was an opportunity to demonstrate that I could fix issues in another department, I was leery that this one was beyond repair. But the tremendous respect and trust I had for my mentor gave me the courage to take on this new challenge.
Repairing the department was a crisis unto itself, and again required my reaching out to others for guidance and support. But I was glad for the opportunity to take it on, and felt motivated again going to work.
You never know when your next crisis will come or how difficult it will be. But with a solid set of mentors and coaches, you’ll be better prepared to take it on.