Part 1: Improve your Executive Presence the Introvert Way
"I cannot get you promoted. My boss and his bosses just don't know who you are. If they don't know you and what you have to offer, they won't allow me to promote you. I've tried, but there is nothing more I can do for you," said my boss. Wham!! Just like that.....all my hopes of finally moving up the corporate ladder into a more challenging job and more money were gone. After many different jobs, I finally had an excellent boss, and even she couldn't get me promoted.
Just one more humiliation for me since graduation from college. I had always been a top student and went to a difficult and respected college. But my experience in the corporate world was less stellar. What was wrong? Why were others getting promoted wherever I went, but not me? I was a good, hard worker. I was bright. Up until this point, I had always blamed someone else: bad bosses, overly competitive co-workers, too much work, and more. I regularly had a legitimate excuse for not "thriving" in my corporate job. But now I had run out of all excuses.
"The higher ups just don't know who you are." I knew this was about my keeping to myself. But that was who I was. I often kept quiet at meetings. I am not naturally outgoing. After all, it generally felt like all the people talking knew what they were doing. What did I have to contribute? I didn't want to talk for the sake of talking. These meetings were too long anyway.
For the next two weeks I went back and forth between anger and confusion. It felt like I was going through the 5 stages of death. Finally I got to acceptance. Acceptance that the reason why I was "mediocre" in my job was because of me. I didn't know why I wasn't good in the corporate environment. I just knew and accepted that I wasn't. This place of acceptance allowed me to be okay with that and gave me the space to explore. I began to think more about what I did have control over. I began to tap into the strengths of being an introvert.
the strengths of being an introvert:
able to dig deep
comfortable spending time alone to reflect
This helped me to let go of my need to get promoted in order to feel that I was "worthy". I started to list goals that were more meaningful to me. I then asked myself how could I push myself to speak up more and strengthen my presence? Most importantly, how could I do this with integrity? This was my turning point. Asking these questions got my mind churning. These questions helped me to see how I could begin (ever so slightly) to push myself to speak up and strengthen my presence. The answer I got was surprisingly simple. I now call this "the introvert way" (to be continued).......