People pleasing

Acceptance and influencing a culture change as a Quiet Leader

September 6, 2023

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I have always had a problem with the term ‘self love’, it is a bit far from my upbringing perhaps, a bit ‘wish-washy’, difficult for me to relate to. Hard to define.

But I like the word acceptance, and following a tricky time in my own life, I’ve been reflecting on what it means for me, and the deceptively profound nature of the word. Which has led me to think about what it means for Quiet Leaders, its incredible importance for change, success and confidence.

Awareness and acceptance give you choice – as to what you could and might do next. And as a Quiet Leader, acceptance of who you are is the beginning of confidence.

There are always bits of ourselves we don’t like. And a lot of ways that we don’t realise we’re different, or require different things, different ways of working and being, to be at our best.

🐞 Maybe as an introvert like me, you’ve had times in the past when you’d much rather be an extrovert, not feel you have to drink three cups of coffee to find the ‘pseudo – extrovert’ buzz to stand up and present to a crowd. And rather not have the ‘hang over’ afterwards!

🐞 Or wonder why you’ve volunteered to take on extra responsibilities you can’t think how you’ll manage, because you got caught up in the excitement of the meeting – your inner people pleaser has gotten busy.

🐞  wonder why you feel inadequate and unable to speak up unless you have something definitive, fully formed or earth shattering to say, when everyone else seems so confident to share their thinking as it evolves.

Driven by people pleasing and imposter syndrome, trying to be someone you’re not, a ‘pseudo extrovert’ leader, because that’s what you think you need to be to succeed, only works for so long. And it feels uncomfortable and exhausting pretending to be an extrovert, not accounting for your quiet nature and need to reflect and recover your energy. It’s not who you are.

There are things, as Quiet Leaders, that are really important for us, that we need to thrive.

Accepting them, that we are different to the majority and need different things to flourish, is a huge step. Our brains and nervous systems work differently, it is not a choice. Once you notice, understand and accept, well I’d love to say it’s super easy but it’s definitely the biggest step.

But, and this is a really important but – acceptance doesn’t mean giving up, blaming everyone else and a world of extroverts, or doing nothing and ‘accepting’ things are the way they are and that’s that.

Because acceptance is the start of change, the only place to start if you want transformational, career-long change rather than just for the next promotion.

The next step is doing something with what you now have become aware of, understood, and accepted 🙂

Here are a few things to think about…

🐞 Do back-to-back meetings mean you cannot think or make decisions effectively, and are spinning and exhausted by the end of the day? How can you take breaks between, even say no to a meeting request?

🐞  having instant messenger notifications turned on when you’re doing deep work mean your inner people pleaser responds and easily gets pulled into ‘helping’? Then comes the self-criticism as to why you can’t concentrate/get ‘your’ work done on time. How can you be ‘unavailable’ for a period of time?

🐞  important meetings without preparatory material or agenda, where you’re asked to make quick decisions? It’s your nature that makes it difficult for you at that time, to make quick decisions, but I bet you come up with a better idea afterwards. How can you get warning/material/agenda in order to think ahead, or reflect afterwards, prior to making a decision.

Whose ‘fault’ is it that these things are the ‘norm’, are felt to be a requirement? Yours in accepting it? The culture of where you lead? The extrovert/’louder’/less sensitive ideal?

There should be no blame here, it’s no one’s intention to exclude, but being aware and accepting that this is how the norm is, and that norm in so many ways doesn’t empower and enable quiet folks, is key to doing something, anything, about it.

Could you influence, control or change, for yourself and your team?

Deciding whether to and how to take action, the options that are ahead of you, may be the basis of a coaching or mentoring relationship, because challenging these ‘norms’ even for yourself and your team, is courageous. Of course, not everyone wants, needs or understands why quieter folks need to do things differently – you may be met with resistance and confusion, both internally (your inner imposter and people pleaser will not be comfortable), and externally. Small steps are the key.

But you and your team will thrive where your nature is accepted and supported, that’s for sure.