I tried that Google quote app again, and something about quiet leadership popped up. Which led me to looking for some better quotes about the power of water cooler leaders. Which resulted in the finding of this gem:
I’ll admit it – it was the llamas that caught my attention. But I really like the quote.
I have often said that I’m an introvert. I don’t think people believe me anymore, and I can understand why. Introverts don’t typically run for public office, or volunteer to lead anything – they like to stay in the background and just “do.” I like “doing” – but I’ve become somewhat more confident about being in front. I say somewhat, because it still makes me sweat bullets. But it’s okay now. And with the right motivation, I think I usually do a good job at it. But it’s hard.
Sometime around the 7th or 8th grade, my dad talked me into trying out for a play. It was for the Wizard of Oz. I had to get on the stage, and sing in front of the directors, and it. was. awful. I ended up getting the part of a flying monkey (would’ve worn roller skates), but after the awful audition, I didn’t even want to get anywhere near the stage. I’m telling you, it was a terrible, terrible experience. The stage was huge, the lights were bright, I couldn’t see the directors, only hear them. The person playing the piano didn’t play it the way my music teacher did. I wanted to disappear into a hole in the ground and never come out.
(What’s really interesting about this remembery – is how much I LOVE Wicked now. I never connected that audition to the love of Elphaba and her fight for good. I’m going to have to dwell on that one in another post).
In the 10th grade, I tried out for drill team at a fairly large school in Sugar Land, Texas. Only 50 girls would make tryouts. Auditions were typically 4 girls at a time, in a room in front of the judges, and then you waited for results, and surprise to everyone, including myself, I made it. During that year and the years that followed in another school and throughout college and work, I learned that if you went in the first group – you got to relax while watching everyone else. And as the years went by, I learned that first wasn’t always the ideal spot, but somewhere in the first 25%. Going last takes too long and allows the nerves to grow. Being in the first 25%, you can watch the ones in front of you, and adjust what you do so that it’s better, or so that it played to what it appeared the judges were looking for. I used that knowledge during the years I competed in taekwondo – watch the judges and see what they were rewarding, and adapt accordingly.
If I have a “leadership style” – I think it’s still reflective of my competition years. Sit back and watch, take notes, and then adapt. Being the quiet one pays off more than you would realize – you get to listen to others, and you can observe the different personalities and forces at work. And then you have the ability to “see.”
People underestimate the quiet one though. Being quiet is not the same as being incapable. And it doesn’t mean that you are a pushover, either. For me, anyway, it means I’m sitting back and watching, and I’m going to learn where to adapt to make the impact or impression that I want. There are people who like to be loud and boisterious, and the center of attention. They push others to do things, and spend a lot of time “out front.” But I think (or at least I tell myself sometimes when I’m feeling gloomy about not being more confident) – it’s the quiet ones that are behind the scenes, getting the job done, motivating others, and making things happen. It’s the quiet ones that work to lead by example – the example being hard work and dedication. It’s the quiet ones that silently push others to perform because they can see what they can be, and don’t mind letting others shine. They’re willing to get in there and get their hands dirty with everyone else. It’s the quiet ones – that see themsleves just like everyone else, because that’s who they strive to be. They don’t need to be out in front – they want the impact of what they’re trying to accomplish speak for itself.
Being a sheep leading lions can be tricky – you never know if the lions are following you, or are trying to eat you for dinner. If you keep them fed, though, and they still follow? You’re doing it right.