Indirect Leadership: The best training for leadership skills

In this episode, I talk about:

  • The challenges of indirect leadership,
  • Why it’s the best “training ground” for leadership, and
  • Why introverts excel in roles requiring indirect leadership.

Episode Transcript

Hello and welcome to the Daring to Succeed podcast.

My name is Julianna Yau Yorgan and I’m a career and leadership coach who helps introverts succeed in the workplace by unleashing their introvert superpowers.

Today, I’m going to talk about:

– The challenges of indirect leadership,

– Why it’s the best “training ground” for leadership, and

– Why introverts excel in roles requiring indirect leadership.

I chose this topic because some of you are already in roles requiring indirect leadership, and either are looking to move into leadership or simply understand the value of leadership skills for your overall career.

Maybe you’re the senior specialist or have the most experience on a team, and are often expected to train and mentor others.

Or, because of your tenure, people often turn to you for insight, advice and guidance.

Or you’re in a product owner, project manager or other technical role that also has some leadership-type responsibilities…without the authority that comes with a manager, director, or other leadership title.

This means you have less access to things like:

– telling them they have to do something because it’s their job

– negotiating how the work gets done

– influencing the priorities of the team, or

– rewarding performance with raises, bonuses or promotions.

Of course, depending on your role and organization, you may have access to some of these. 

But in most cases, people in an indirect leadership role need to get the work done or support the team differently than a manager would.

This is where you need to rely not on your position or title, but how skillful you are with:

– negotiating success

– managing and negotiating resource availability

– negotiating priorities

– persuasion and influence

– removing roadblocks

– creative problem-solving, and

– gaining consensus.

Notice that public speaking, presentation, confidence and assertiveness won’t help you get here.

Yes, you may be able to present an amazing proposal or insist on a particular way of doing things.

But without consensus, available resources and their willingness to meet deadlines, the work won’t get done.

No matter how charming you are, or how moving your speech was.

And this is why being in an indirect leadership role is an invaluable space for you to develop leadership skills that will serve you in the future.

Whether you intend to move into leadership or not, you’ll be able to navigate the challenging situations you’re faced with, because you can lead through ability–not through a title.

Just think of one of the worst bosses you’ve had.

I bet you some of the way they led was through force, not through consensus.

Now think of one of the best bosses you’ve had.

How they accomplished their work and supported the team probably seemed pretty magical, because they were doing all of this negotiation, persuasion and problem-solving behind the scenes!

So why do introverts excel in these indirect leadership positions?

The first is that we listen more than we speak. 

This is a critical input for most of those skills of negotiation, problem-solving, persuasion and gaining consensus.

It means we are listening for the root cause of the problem, but also for opportunities to find win-win situations or clarify a misunderstanding that can lead to a solution.

Our preference for smaller groups and one-on-one interactions also means we are more likely to seek understanding in an environment where the people we’re speaking with feel safe to voice their true concerns or ideas.

And our need for reflection before making a decision means we’re less likely to be tempted by an easy fix, and more open to spending the time to find a path forward.

So, for all of my indirect and introverted leaders out there, use this as an opportunity to hone your negotiation, persuasion and creative problem-solving skills.

These skills will be invaluable to you no matter what your career will look like in the future.

Okay, that’s it for now. 

I hope you found this helpful and I’ll see you next time!

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