This excerpt from my upcoming book, Boldly Quiet: The Introvert’s Guide to Developing the Mindset of a Successful Leader, captures the “why” of my book and my executive coaching practice.
“You are not the type of leader that [your company] values.” Esteem-crushing words. Ambition-crushing words. Soul-crushing words. Did I still have a job? I felt like I had just been fired even though I had been handpicked to undergo this psychological evaluation to determine the future investment the company would make in my leadership development. How could it happen that I went from top performer to a marginalized leader with those few words from a third-party psychiatrist? How could I continue to face human resources leaders, my boss and his peers, knowing that they had discussed how I fell short of the company’s defined leadership competencies?
As I struggled to get my career moving in a positive direction again, I felt my talents and strengths were not good enough. The mindset of “I am an introverted woman, so I can’t be successful without pretending to be someone else” continued to color my thinking, behavior, and, ultimately, my results. This belief became my mantra when I walked in the building every day, knowing that I had to fight to be perceived differently. I knew that to be successful I needed to force myself to act like someone I inherently was not. I left at the end of each day discouraged and exhausted, feeling stuck and undervalued.
My story is not unique. When I tell people I coach introverted leaders, heads nod and I hear about the struggles of pretending to fit an extroverted stereotype in order to be considered successful in many organizations. I hear frustration and self-doubt in their stories. And sometimes I hear anger as introverted professionals say they were passed over for promotions even though they outperformed the winning candidates on all levels—except fitting the most common stereotype of a successful leader: extroverted, charismatic, and bigger-than-life.
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