If Everyone’s a Leader, Who’s Going to Follow?
With so much emphasis on leadership, do you ever worry about being left behind simply because you are an introvert? It would not be surprising if leadership training began in your kindergarten classroom and through your kindergarten eyes, everyone appeared to be a leader except for you. At the time you had no idea that you were in leadership training. However, as you glance backward into the farthest echelons of your brain, it’s clear that is what was taking place.
Fast forward to middle and high school and you see the teenage you in the same leadership development and/or training and again, you seem to either be missing the boat or being overlooked as a potential leader.
I’ll stop at high school, but leadership training continues to be the pinnacle of our educational system. The problem with that model is that so much emphasis is placed on leadership based on the outward appearance of a perceived “good” leader. The downside is that no one looks beyond the surface for leadership. Thus, leadership is often based on superficially imposed characteristics instead of innate or instinctive leadership skills as is often the case with introverts.
I once heard Bishop T.D. Jakes say “you don’t have to be THE leader in order to lead.”
Oftentimes good leaders are not the ones that are readily vocal with their ideas, processes or procedures. Speaking off the cuff may not be the forte of a leader outside of the proverbial mold. For the introvert looking to climb the leadership ladder, it may be necessary for you to take the focus off of leadership and just simply lead by example. While speaking up at meetings may not be appealing to you, if you have an idea about what the meeting will entail, you can make your contribution in writing prior to the meeting and then when asked to elaborate, you’ll be in your proverbial comfort zone. What I mean is, we can be very passionate about our interest and ideas and that passion can come across when we share with others. Given enough of these opportunities “designed” by you, you’ll become the go to person overtime and take on quiet leadership tasks that are suitable to your personality and not the idealized version of leadership. It’s a win-win for everyone.