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Leading the Way, Kicking & Screaming

January 15, 2016

for JusJoJan – Prompt: Leadership

As a matter of personality, I am a mediator, not a leader. I don’t particularly like leadership roles. Unfortunately, I have found myself taking the role far too often in my life because of the indecisiveness of others or because people looked up to me for one reason or another.

One instance occurred when I was working at this call center job. Our manager needed someone to do a presentation for our small group. The company was rolling out a new product that would be installed on all of our phone systems and they needed someone to learn it first and then present it to the group. No one would volunteer. This went on for two days and the manager was getting pretty huffy about it. On the second meeting, everyone pointed at me. “She will do it!” I had not volunteered, but because everyone there saw me as a strong woman with good work ethics (their words, not mine) and something of a leader, I was chosen by default. The system was easy to use and I learned it quickly, perhaps too quickly. And when it came the day to present it to the group, yes I panicked. There I stood in front of everyone who looked to me to lead the way and I was frozen. Somehow I managed to make it through, but I hated every second of it. I was just not a “leader” type.

These roles cropped up often for me in various other jobs over my working career. I was singled out more often that I care to remember to be a trainer for one thing or another. Sometimes I went into these situations kicking and screaming. I never wanted this. I was not a leader, but default always won out. I suppose I should be grateful that managers saw such potential in me. It helped a lot when it came to getting raises, but the stress from it all was too much for me. I switched jobs often because of it. Sometimes I would stay for 2-3 years, other times no longer than 6 months. You just cannot make a leader out of someone who is a mediator. It is just too stressful.

It wasn’t just with jobs though. My circle of friends appointed me their unofficial leader too. They looked up to me and granted, I was older than most of them, but I didn’t ask or even try to be their leader. I always had to decide where we would go and what we would do. They all came to me to solve their problems for them or to get advice. I felt like some guru most of the time. It’s not that I didn’t want to help, but when everyone looks at you as their leader, you also get the backlash when something goes wrong. Again, too much stress.

So these days I stay in the background as much as possible. I still enjoy my role as a mediator and I can handle that with relative little stress, but I never want to be put in a position to lead anyone again.

  1. Seeing all sides is a talent, skill, art. We need more mediators in the world.

    • We do… but I don’t think many who are know they are or don’t want to get involved… happens 🙂

  2. I understand. I found leadership roles came with a high personal cost. Especially those in the workplace when I became the defacto leader due to the poor work habits of others and the good ones of mine.
    I’m no longer in a place where I’ll be asked to lead. I’m both sad and glad that I wouldn’t be asked to do what I no longer feel capable of. Being looked up to, as you say, carries a heavy cost.
    Glad you are a mediator. I’m not sure I’ve ever been good at that.

    • That’s great that you are no longer in that place where you have to be a leader.. as for the mediator role.. I can usually see all sides of an argument, so it helps me to be able to mediate everyone involved. Thanks for stopping by!

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