Being an Introvert in the Workplace

Video

One of my absolute favorite websites is Ted.com. I highly recommend it – if you have 10 minutes and you want to be wowed, fascinated, or learn something new, or listen to something you know nothing about – this is the website for you. Every time I watch a video, I come away with a different perspective on that particular topic.

I watched this video solely because I saw it advertised at my library. The video shows Susan Cain presenting on a topic called: “The Power of Introverts”. I’m an introvert, and I’m trying to get into leadership within my company, and seem to take leadership roles elsewhere. As the oldest of seven, I was put in a leadership constantly growing up helping my mother keep the household running.

My boyfriend has been high-up leadership in restaurants for a long time, but he’s the extrovert. Don’t get me wrong, I can be out-going if I desire, but that’s not my tendency.

I’m part of a development of leaders program at my work, and through the course, classes, and the final project which we are right now working through, analyzing myself, thoughts, and actions, I’ve figured out that I don’t “have” to lead, but I end up leading if I don’t see the project moving forward. So I’ll delve in and do what needs to be done, delegate when necessary, etc. But as soon as that momentum is caught up by the rest of the group, I step back, and see where they take it.

That’s what happened with our final project. We are tasked with organizing and running a fundraising project with only 3 hours of meeting time (8-person group). It’s not as easy as you’d think, especially when approvals and proposals have to go up at least 3 levels of management. The first two weeks, albeit our management was gone on vacation, but it seemed we didn’t get anything accomplished. All our brainstorming was going around in circles. Finally we sat down to a meeting and I had a list of what I saw us doing, and told them up front that this is what I saw us doing, proposed splitting us into groups with a leader, and they were responsible for finding out the information we needed and getting back to me. Voila – that worked. We got our proposal pretty much completed, and then I went on a vacation for a week. By the time I got back, not a ton extra had been completed, but the proposal was presented within a couple days and we got a resounding approval from our management. Now I’ve stepped back a bit, but I’m still vocal via emails and such, but now that our team has the event underway, I’ve realized I’m still the informal leader. I still get asked for my opinion or for status updates. I’m really okay with that. I’m glad the rest of them are stretching their wings and owning their own parts of the project. I was telling my very extroverted been-a-leader-for-longer-than-he-can-remember boyfriend that being an introverted leader is probably more of a challenge. It takes guts to not micro-manage and let your team try to take on the individual tasks, while trying to keep everything on track and calm down the type-A personality because certain parts aren’t done according to when they wanted it to get done. I’m okay with helping out and not being in the spotlight. It’s really okay to not be extroverted, and just because you’re not, doesn’t mean you won’t do well in leadership. It’s just a different style.