A world where the quiet lead
Updated: Jan 22, 2021
People are surprised when I tell them I am an introvert. They see my outside as confident, decisive and brave. Because of my role as a leader in my organization, I had to speak up with my opinion. I had to lead the team. I had to speak in front of large rooms of people. But that does not mean it was easy for me. It was at times really hard.
And I didn't realize how hard until I was in a diversity training called Dialogues across Differences. In this training, actors played out scenarios where people were not feeling included or they were being stereotyped. In one scene, an introverted woman made a point in a team meeting and no one heard her. Then another person made that same point and everyone acknowledged it. How many times had that happened in my career, especially when I was more junior. The moderator then said right at this point we will have a few people start to cry. And right on cue, I started to cry, tears escaping my eyes, rolling down my cheeks - right in front of all my colleagues. Why can't people hear me?
That scene epitomized my experience as an introvert at work. I had not realized up to that point how hard it was. How much pain I carried. I had stuck it out and figured out techniques that would work for me to be heard. But it was still hard. And based on my own experience, I realized I had the opportunity to help other introverts just like me.
My vision as a leadership coach evolved to: A world where the quiet lead.
And my passion is serving introverted, female, mid-level managers in tech who want to find and use their voice, scale their leadership and find happiness at work.
I want to help them lead with quiet confidence.
You do not need to change who you are to be a successful leader in an extraverted, male-dominated world. Be you. I am living proof you can still be you and be a great leader.
I have had many successes in my life, including promotions. I have also taken many risks to speak up, ignored my inner critic telling me to stay quiet, done what I wanted to do vs what others thought was best for me. Knowing what I know now, being who I am now, I wish I could whisper to my younger self when someone talked over me or got credit for my idea, "speak up but do it in the way only you know how to". Being the loudest is not always the only way to be heard. Being true to you and your strengths is the best way to create ripples and be heard.
I certainly am much better at this than my younger self. But to this day I still have to push myself - to speak up in a large conference call or ask a question in a training. My heart beats faster and my palms get sweaty. Say something! Ugh! Phew! I did it. I need to build up the energy for next time. But will I be able to do it next time? Just keep trying. Staying quiet is no longer an option.