My Skip boss asked me to take over a high-profile project from one of his peers. I am also in negotiations with another company for a new job. Do I tell skip boss the reasons for my reluctance to take over the project?
I am a contributing member of an important internal project that has organization-wide implications for process improvement and quality. The leader of this project is a peer of my skip boss, and both are very high up in the company (which is a small one). Yesterday my skip boss, on behalf of the CEO, asked me to take over the project's leadership and also offered some incentives to do so. (My boss is on vacation which is why he's not involved in the discussion). Skip boss wants an offer ASAP so they can remove the project from the current project leader's portfolio. The reasons why are not important, but they believe it will be more successful under my leadership, and I agree with them.
Unbeknownst to Skip boss, I just received a firm offer for a significant promotion at a different company in another state, and I'm negotiating the terms (mostly salary and relocation). If the other company meets my request even halfway, I'm taking it. There is no similar opportunity in my own company, because of its size and because the role is currently occupied by my boss, who is well regarded and isn't leaving any time soon. (he has been open with me about this as he knows I want to advance my career).
I don't want a counter offer from my company. But I also don't want to be a weasel. I like the current company, I evangelized the project and want it to be successful. I believe I would bring the project to a very successful conclusion but I am sensitive to how it will be perceived by the current project leader, and others in the org, if I take over. Not to mention if I accept the assignment, only to resign in a week, it could derail the project and leave a lot of bad feelings.
I expect that a revised offer won't come from the other company until the end of this week or even next, but skip boss wants an answer by tomorrow.
Should I tell skip boss the true reason for my hesitation? I don't want a counter, and I can't delay giving him an answer. Should I just not give him a reason for declining? Or give him a bogus reason? Or tell him I'm negotiating a new opportunity and just decline a counter if necessary?