From Silent to Self-Assured: Learning to Take the Lead
By Ellie Carigan, New Business Director, Spring 2020
Do you ever question your abilities in the face of new experiences? Do you feel like you just aren't qualified? You're not alone; all beginning professionals go through the same process. It is natural to doubt ourselves when we are placed in unknown situations. It is especially challenging to adapt to new professional environments in which we feel the pressure of performance. We feel like we must make all the right moves and say the right things because we want to step-up to the situation. We want to impress the people in these circumstances as we feel our future careers might depend on it. For students, work environments can bring a sense of doubt and lack of self-assurance. We feel as though we are not qualified to interact with business leaders due to our lack of experience, status as a student or other hesitations we may find.
It is easy to give in to this feeling of uncertainty and force ourselves to the back of the room. We allow ourselves to become sheep, merely slipping into the crowd. We feel incapable of speaking up and standing out due to the social and professional demands we perceive around us.
I have experienced this dilemma for myself. As the New Business Director this semester, I have been placed in situations that required I assert my position as a leader to guide Inigo into more significant opportunities. This transformation was challenging for me as I have historically viewed myself as an introvert. I’m not typically the one to be the dominant voice in any conversation. I always have seen this as my detrimental flaw because extroversion can lead to networking and crucial business relationships. I always felt I could never truly be successful because of my timid nature.
This is a hurdle I have forced myself to overcome. I have discovered that everyone, even introverts, can grow into leaders. It is essential to find and hone our voices, especially in an industry as demanding as communications. Even if we have quiet demeanors, we must learn to break out of our shell and be aggressive. We must adapt the quality of boldness so that professionals around us may recognize our unique skills and qualifications. Although it was difficult at first, I have learned that having confidence in my abilities can genuinely pay off. In my own experience, the act of assertiveness has led to signing meaningful clients for Inigo. There is no telling what effect your leadership can have on an organization until you step forward and give it a try.
Sometimes it feels impossible to become a leader in environments that already have a management system in place. It seems there is no room for an additional leading voice or opinion. However, these situations present plenty of room for individual leadership for smaller-scale projects. It is the perfect opportunity to develop leadership skills slowly and at your own pace. No matter where you are, it is imperative that you seek out opportunities to display your talents while encouraging the work of others.
Learning to be a leader starts with small steps. From beginning to network with strangers to leading a group of peers—evolution can quickly happen with purposeful effort. Even though we may not naturally identify with being a leader, it doesn't mean that we aren't meant to be one. We are each capable of embracing the situations we are in to become a leading voice for those around us. We can use personal experiences to guide and inform our peers. Our ideas and actions can positively impact the organization we are working with, as long as we are brave enough to share them.