The situation goes as follows:

The company you work for has a "Leadership Program" that is by invitation only. You were selected for it by the president of the company, but meanwhile your coworker, who happens to have been at this company longer, is one of the people who interviewed you, and then mentored you, was not selected, and now is feeling rejected by this situation. You also happen to have a close relationship with this particular coworker.

What would be an appropriate way to handle this situation and be able to maintain a professional and close relationship?

edit: there are no 'hard requirements" for this program

  • Well, if your coworker does not meet the requirements to that Leadership Program it must be for something. Either he/she is not so good or lacks some interpersonal skill. In what way you say he/she is feeling rejected? I consider you should not worry about this as long as you dont brag about it – DarkCygnus Jul 27 '17 at 16:53
  • @mcknz maybe related but not necessarily a duplicate – DarkCygnus Jul 27 '17 at 16:55
  • 7
    It's also possible that management felt your coworker already has good leadership skills and wouldn't benefit as much from this program as others would. – SWalters - Reinstate Monica Jul 27 '17 at 16:56
  • @mcknz - no, we are still technically at the same level – Just_Some_Guy Jul 27 '17 at 16:57
  • don't conflate skills with organizational level. Scraping Infinity may be right – NKCampbell Jul 27 '17 at 16:57

You didn't do anything wrong so you are not obligated to do something specific in this situation. what you could do to show that you care about your coworker is to share with him the things you learn over the program, but do not try to talk to your manager or president into bringing him to the program, because it's not your business. If he wants an explanation or an opportunity he can ask for himself.


Given that you've a close relationship with your colleague, it might be worth buying him (or her) a beer, ridicule the situation by bringing up that it's e.g. straight out of Dilbert, that you can't see why he/she shouldn't have gone too/instead of you. Crack a few jokes about the situation to ease and diffuse the tension, and laugh about it together.

Or just do nothing, as Joe suggested in a comment. So long as you're not walking around with a smug smile, your coworker will get over it quickly.


[...] your coworker [...] was not selected, and now is feeling rejected by this situation.

So said coworker values the idea of being a 'leader', or at the very least the idea of being part of the program.

there are no 'hard requirements" for this program

So it is based on someone's opinion/evaluation, which may or may not reflect your coworker's merit.

The logical conclusion would be that, if your coworker wants to get an invitation to the leadership program, then they need to match the evaluator's expectations.

As it stands, this may have nothing to do with their professional competency at all. Let's assume, for a second, a technical specialist like a software developer: the only practical 'path to leadership' would be a position as Lead Developer. The Leadership Program may be focused on administrative leadership, with a Venn diagram showing a surprisingly small shared area between the two administration aspects.

The best approach in my opinion would be to make it clear to your coworker that you participating in the program doesn't interfere with your relationship with them at all, and that you're sympathetic to their situation. As it is, your presence on the program may even reward them with an insight on expected traits, thus helping them in the long run.

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