I will never be promoted....
Maybe it's my lack of intelligence? - ok, I'm never going to find the solution to world hunger or discover a cure for the common cold but I consider myself of reasonable intelligence.
Maybe my visionary skills are ineffective or I'm incapable of developing flexible business strategies to meet ever changing marketing conditions? - actually this is what I do, I love it, and I'm pretty damn good at it (so I am told).
It must be my poor leadership skills then - well no. I manage to deliver on my vision with very limited resources through influencing virtual people who have the same passion as I do. And virtual leadership is considered one of the hardest qualities to master.
Then it has to be my lack of passion and unwillingness to take on additional responsibilities - actually it's neither of these either. I have three high profile roles, two of which I asked to take on and my Sponsor keeps highlighting my passion as an incredible trait and the ability I have to just make things happen regardless of any obstacles.
So if it's not lack of intelligence, ineffective visionary skills, incapability to develop business strategies, poor leadership skills, lack of passion or unwillingness to take on additional responsibilities then why after seven years of over achieving have I not been promoted?
It's because I'm an introvert.
I like getting energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I'll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the ideas of something better than the real thing.
The following statements generally apply to me:
(extract taken from Lisa Petrilli's eBook The Introvert's Guide To Success in Business and Leadership helping to identify if you are an introvert)
- I am seen as "reflective" or "reserved"
- I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own
- I prefer to know just a few people well
- I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don't move into action quickly enough
- I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience
It's strange, I never realised until I read Lisa Petrilli's The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership eBook yesterday that I was an introvert (I mean as a label). And the fact I organise social gatherings and speak at events would suggest that I am more of an extrovert than in introvert. But I do these things because I don't want introversion to hold me back, I won't let it.
Now, if you were expecting me to start slating my employer I am sorry to disappoint. I want to make it very clear this is not my employers problem, this is my problem. If I want to progress I need to first accept that I am an introvert and secondly learn how to work with it. After all I cannot join a rugby team and expect them to change to play football because it's what I prefer. The corporate playing field is set and I if I want to play then I need to adapt to their game not the other way round.
You might find it ironic that a Social Media Business Leader such as myself can hold such a position being an introvert. The very name suggests a contradiction to the fact, but I am starting to realise this is more common than you might think. See if any of the following relate to you:
- You are quieter than normal in large meetings
- You don't like being put on the spot to respond or provide input in a public forum without having time to digest and think of a suitable response
- Attending conferences scares the hell out of you
- After a conference, or all day meeting with a large group of people, you need to be by yourself and get some down time (sometimes days)
- You avoid networking opportunities of any kind, and prefer your own company to the company of others
- You find it hard to accept praise from others
So can an introvert be a leader?
I consider myself a leader but understanding that I am an introvert and learning how to manage it with the help of people's views and insights like Lisa Petrilli can make me a better leader. And maybe one day I will finally get that promotion. But the important thing is I now realise I am not alone, that there are other introvert leaders out there and that it is possible for an introvert like myself to achieve. The important thing is to not let introversion hold you back.
Introverts have a voice. It may not be as loud as those other voices around you but even the silent voice of an introvert has something to say and we need to take the time to listen...
Lisa Petrilli's The Introvert's Guide To Success in Business and Leadership eBook is a must if you consider yourself an introvert who wants to succeed in business or in life for that matter. But it is also essential reading for extroverts to understand how to better lead those introverts in your team. I found it an invaluable read and beautifully written.