This is the second post in my “Leading Ladies” series. I am excited to present Christine Assaf, my partner-in-crime for LASHRM this year and a respected voice in the Social HR space.
Christine Assaf is an experienced HR Professional with a passion for Social Media. Blogging for over three years Christine started, a professional blog, that talks about all these HR related – both from the manager and employee perspective. You will often find her on twitter exchanging HR wisdom from “behind the scenes.” A conference speaking veteran, Christine enjoys helping job seekers with skills assessment, resume review, and mock interviews and coaching executives on best strategies. She is also an active participant in Toastmasters, plays Dungeons & Dragons, and loves football and running. Christine’s wit and charm light up the “internet” with the perfect combo of HR knowledge and snarky. You can connect with Christine on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Leadership Failures & Growth

My eyes welled up and the lump in my throat swelled as I couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. I started to cry… in front of my boss… and the words he said to comfort me I’ll never forget.

My first managerial experience was working for a local YMCA as the Membership Services Director.  I started as a part-timer and had worked my way up over the years.  They invested in me with training, college assistance – the people were like family, the place like home.  My boss gave me my first management stint when I was only about 20 years old.  I was in charge of the small nursery/daycare center within the Y.  It was only a handful of employees – part-time college students, stay-at-home moms, etc. who watched people’s children during workouts and gym time.

About a month or two into my newest responsibility, I was called into my boss’ office.  He sat me down and handed me a letter.  It was addressed to my boss and voiced concerns about my management. They said I was condescending.  That I didn’t care about them.  Made their complaints and needs seem petty and how the workers felt I was unfit to be their boss.


As I held the letter in my hand my face felt hot, I held back the tears as best I could, but I knew my boss could see my pain. I felt hurt, betrayed, angry, disappointed, and confused all at the same time. It was at this moment he said the following to me:

“This is a moment in your management career you won’t forget. You have two choices.  You can take what they said, be angry about it, blame them for going over your head, and take it out on them.  Or you can reflect on it, find out where you went wrong, see if there’s any truth in it, and try to do better. In either case, you need to address it, with them.  How you respond – is up to you.”

This story defined my earliest management experience and formed me into the career woman I am today.  It’s a simple lesson.  My career has been filled with simple learning lessons – miscues, communication problems, failures – I’ve had the lot.  But the key takeaway from any experience is the ability to reflect upon one’s own self and recognize when there’s a need to change.  Introspection.

From a young inexperienced manager to a successful HR practitioner I have come a long way with many learning lessons.  I went on to work for that YMCA for another 4 years then left to go back to school for a Business Management degree.  Thereafter I landed amazing positions that helped me to grow into the HR lady I am today. Each with their successes and failures, but all of them with great experience.

My boss was right; it’s a moment I have never forgotten.  I’ll always remember that moment in that office where I felt like my career was tumbling down.  In retrospect, that moment was when it began.

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