How do I deal with an ambitious colleague?

Hi Aunty B,

I’ve worked with my boss for six years and he regards me as his right-hand and confidante; a view others share. There are openings for two managerial positions in our department that both a colleague (“A”) and I have been promised.

“A” has started acting very competitively and has made it clear to her colleagues she does not mind stepping on others to get to the top. My boss has started to favour her, which works well for me as I can pass some of my heavy workload to her.

But my problem is that me and the other executives do not trust “A”. We have caught her several times lying to our boss and taking credit for other people’s work.

My boss recently told me I am being too emotional and leveraging my working relationship with him. He says this makes it hard for other executives to work with me. I was dumbfounded he said this, as I am his longest serving staff member. He once complimented me that I managed to hide my emotions when dealing with clients and these clients remarked positively about me to him on this matter. This confuses me.

I have never taken advantage of my close working relationship with him and everybody knows that. I feel that since “A” is getting closer to my boss, she’s badmouthed others and me to him.

How can I protect my reputation?

Thank you


Dear Thank You,


Good on you for going for the top job. But I’m afraid you are your own worst enemy.  You need to step back and see this situation clearly.

The world has changed and you have stayed put. Your company strategy has evolved and your boss needs different people to advise him alongside yourself. This has made you feel very insecure and possessive, which can be annoying to other executives who want to work in a team and need equal access to the boss to carry out their work effectively.

You need to step away from all those emotional thoughts. This is not a family with dad at the fore and a pile of siblings fighting for attention. This is work. You need to be very professional and stop bitching to colleagues about other work colleagues.

You also say you have a heavy workload. Are you sticking your head in the sand, focusing on emotional relationships and your job rather than the big picture? Could that be what your colleague is doing — having mature conversations with your boss about how things need to change?

Focus on the big picture. How is your marketplace changing? How does your strategy need to change? What role can you play in the company’s future? How can you build the best leadership team you can and work alongside the other executives to achieve the company’s vision?

If you read this and find yourself outraged and answering with statements like “what about when she…” then you need to find another job. Unless you can see the way you are behaving and take responsibility for this, you will find your position alongside your boss continues to deteriorate and you will end up very bitter with no capacity for insight.

Be smart,


Your Aunty B


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