I would be remiss if I started this post without acknowledging the current social climate. Protests all around the world fighting for the rights of Black Lives – and rightfully so. When considering how to step up as a quiet leader, looking at the world outside of ourselves and our own pursuits, I believe, is one of the most important aspects.
I have written more about this over here and you can check out my Social Impact policy if you’d like to read more about steps I am taking around how I am unpacking my privilege and working towards a business that is not just actively anti-racist, but moving away from a traditionally capitalist framework.
Trying to be anti-capitalist as a business owner living an operating in a capitalist system is something that I have been quarrelling with for years.
How do we actively resist and fight something that is also the way that we live in the world?
I cannot afford to do my work for free, because I have bills to pay. And so in some way I must participate, but I am working more and more each day to try and find ways to do this differently and question internal biases and beliefs I have about myself, the world, business, and my place in all of that.
I have created a page of articles, teachers, and other resources that I have learnt from, if you’re interested.
I am in the process of going through all aspects of my business again, as I do every 6-12 months, as I learn and uncover more, looking at ways I can do better.
What does this have to do with leadership?
Or being an introvert, for that matter?
You see, I feel that it has a LOT to do with it. Perhaps you don’t agree or feel so strongly about the things that I do. But I can guarantee that you stand for SOMETHING.
As introverts, the world has told us that we are too quiet, we are too sensitive for this world.
The memes, oh the memes, that constantly confirm this is true.
The big Introvert social media accounts, platforms, and websites affirming this.
And these were the ‘leaders’ (who have 10s or 100s of thousands of followers) who actively chose to stay silent, bypass, or center the comfort of the white people in their space over the past week, at the cost of the safety and wellbeing of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour).
These are the leaders.
The people I have followed over the years.
And I’m done with it.
How To Step Up As A Quiet Leader
As introverts, we can believe that we’re not meant to be leaders. Even the fact that people identify and are defined as ‘A’ or ‘B’ type personalities, doesn’t sit well with me.
I have been reading this excellent book called Emergent Strategy by adrienne marie brown and THIS spoke so loudly to me:
“[For instance,] humans so far have generally deified and aligned with the ‘king’ of the jungle or forest – lions, tigers, bears. And yet so many of these creatures, for all their isolated ferocity and alpha power, are going extinct. While a major cause of that extinction is our human impact, there is something to be said for adaptation, the adaptation of small, collaborative species.”
We get to choose what our leadership looks like – and it doesn’t necessarily look like the way we’ve been TOLD it should. In fact, like those alpha species, the leaders that prescribe to the old-school definition of leadership, are doing a fucking terrible job. They are not adaptable.
But we can be.
For a long time, I thought being a quiet observer, listener, and being able to fill the gaps where I saw gaping holes no one was paying attention to was a DISADVANTAGE (*facepalm*)
It is not.
Over and over again, we are seeing how those Alphas are making mistakes. Not doing the work. Missing the gaping holes.
As my wonderful friend Sharyn Holmes put it (I have been thinking about this quote all week:
“All the white leaders, thought leaders, and coaches still silent are not the leaders the world requires.”
Are you ready to be a leader that the world needs right now?
Who are you following?
I have unfollowed a LOT of people in the past week (almost as many as I have lost speaking out about racism and amplifying voices of BIPOC). But mostly because their silence, complicity, or downright ignorance has been doing my head in.
At the same time, I have seen SO many people defending and praising the Marie Forleo’s and Jenna Kutcher’s in their comments sections.
And it’s made me think about how power works and what changes it.
It will never come from the top – that’s why the protests are ACTUALLY creating change.
Those who have always had the power and who hold the most of it will not change or speak out against the very things that have allowed them to have that power. Why would they?
Humans are biologically self preservationists. Why would we choose discomfort when comfort is easily available?
But – as I recently heard super coach Rachel Rodger‘s husband, Dediako, say – “Comfort stifles growth.’
It is up to US to look at who we follow, support, pay, and learn from (oh, and VOTE FOR).
I’m certain it is the only way forward.
And I also believe that leadership starts with self-leadership. With taking action and making choices that might not be the popular or cool thing to do, but that feel aligned with our values and what we stand for.
Do You See Yourself As A Leader?
I hate to quote Dumbledore but this quote has always meant a lot to me:
“… perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”
You might not think of yourself as a leader. But I think we have to start rethinking not just ourselves in the world, as quieter types, but also what leadership actually means to us and to the world.
Maybe it doesn’t have to be loud and oppressive.
Or having millions of doting followers.
Perhaps it’s something different altogether.
And I hope we can start looking into what that looks like for us and for our world as we move forward from this place.
Quiet, gentle, sensitive leaders are needed to collaborate with each other and find a better way.
Remember, there is a difference between being quiet and being silent.
If you’re interested in leadership and business as a quiet, sensitive soul, you’ll want to join The League of Extraordinary Introverts community (it’s free!) Starting Monday 15th June at 10am AEST, I will be hosting a weekly show called Coffee With Katherine and focusing on different business tips and strategies for introverts, empaths, and highly sensitive people.
Come along now and join The League of Extraordinary Introverts here!
Prefer to listen to How To Step Up As A Quiet Leader?
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