My wife and I both travel for our careers. We're different in that I'm a consultant, whereas she's an independent contractor who works on 13-week assignments.

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Her present assignment will be ending in a couple of weeks and she'll be coming home. She has spent the last couple of weeks trying to confirm where she will go next, after a two-week break. I'm about to tell you a tale of elation and frustration, and the frustration isn't her fault.

One of the companies she works with contacted her and mentioned that there was an assignment relatively close to where we live. By relative, I mean within three hours; that's a big deal, especially when you realize that her current contract is in California and my last one was in Memphis, and we live in the Syracuse NY area.

Only a couple of hours after this company had contacted my wife, the director of the department called my wife out of the blue and asked if she could interview her. That's not normally how things are done, and the woman even told her she wasn't sure if that's how it's supposed to work but that she had called wanting to know my wife would talk to her. She did, and the interview went well. After the interview, my wife called the agency and told them that she had already interviewed with this particular hospital and it seemed to have gone very well.

A couple of days later the agency contacted my wife and said this hospital was very interested in having her come. That meant it was time for some of the negotiations, which usually includes things like insurance, where to live, and a host of other things. There was some back-and-forth over the next couple of days, and by Friday of that week my wife had agreed in principle to the terms of the deal. She was ecstatic mainly because if she wanted to she could come home every weekend, and she'd also found a fully furnished apartment in a nice neighborhood, which means she'd have saved some extra money to help pay for insurance.

Then came Monday.

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A representative from the agency contacted my wife and told her that the person from the hospital had been overruled by the doctor in the department who, as it turns out, had the authority, not the director, for bringing people into the department. The physician, even though this hospital has had trouble finding a permanent replacement for the position, decided that he would rather wait and work harder to get a permanent person rather than fill the spot temporarily with someone who had no intention of taking the job on a permanent basis once the assignment was over. The agency representative also said that based on how things had gone down they wouldn't represent this hospital any further in trying to find someone if they tried to come back in the future

Strangely enough, I can commiserate with my wife because I had the same type of thing happened to me a few years ago. I had the opportunity to consult with a local hospital on a project that would've lasted anywhere from 3 to 6 months, and we had already agreed on salary, but it turned out that the person who had negotiated the deal didn't have the final authority to close the deal and I never got a signed agreement.

Most of the time I never have a problem when people decide to take the initiative to fix an issue that has presented itself. However, when you're in a leadership position, even if the person you're talking to isn't the person who reports to you, let alone works for your organization, it is your responsibility to make sure that you're allowed to do what you're trying to do before you potentially ruin things not only for your company, but for the person you've been working with.

There's always some kind of fallout from something like this. Obviously people are disappointed, but sometimes people lose their job over things like this. If you don't have the ultimate authority over making a decision, it's always best to at least run the idea by the person who does before going through the motions. It's not only the right thing to do, it's a leadership best practice.

Luckily for my wife, who was a bit disappointed because she was looking at the benefits of being close to home, there were a couple other opportunities on the table and she's sifting through them to make a final determination on which one she's going to select. However, none of them will be close to home, which means they all come with their own set of complications. Still, it's possible that she dodged the bullet that would've left her without any options at all.

Of course I could add something about the physician holding onto a pipe dream, but I think I'll save that for another day.

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