Monday, June 10, 2013

The Solitude Side of Leadership

(Photo credit: University of Minnesota)
Every once in a while I put myself out there on a personal note. Who is the person who writes on the Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program (WFLDP) blog and maintains their Facebook page, taught secondary education for nine years, and was a fire information officer for over a decade. Well, she is an introvert. Yep, it is true. There, this leader has been exposed. Am I a fraud? Read on.

In the video below, Susan Cain claims that 1/3 to 1/2 of all individuals are introverts. I didn't need a test to tell me what already knew. She provides a short quiz on her website for those who don't.

Some of this world's greatest leaders--Abraham Lincoln, Bill Gates, Mother Theresa, Ghandi--preferred the introverted lifestyle. However, purpose for something beyond themselves was more important than self. I am not as grand a leader as any of the leaders mentioned above, but I do know my introversion takes a back seat to my purpose: to promote education and leadership development. 

Fireline leaders must demonstrate command presence through their demeanor. This includes poise and self-assurance. Just because I'm an introvert doesn't mean that I don't have what it takes to lead. Solitude is a preference and does not dictate my life or ability to lead. Those who know me, get me. They provide me with the tools and opportunities I need and that set me up for success. They let me work in the solitude of my own office or at my home through teleworking, and they don't force me to do jobs that are totally outside my comfort zone. They listen when I have something to say. We have respect for one another and together create great products for the wildland fire service.

Leader success is not dependent upon whether or not you are introverted or extroverted. What matters is if you possess the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to get the job done. After all, we make a decision to lead. I could easily hide in my solitude, but I have people to lead!

Be sure to check out Susan Cain's TedTalk presentation on "The Power of Introverts." It just might provide personal insight as well as introspection into those you lead or those you might want to hire.

Other References: 

No comments: