Susan Cain has done some powerful research on how our traditional school setting is built for extroverts and often leaves introverts behind. She goes on to say how this can be an extremely dangerous thing, as we need our introverts for their creativity and leadership. But we are not providing them the best environment to show their true leadership potential. Below she describes how being a leader is a calling much like we saw in the “Cave” reading.
“Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Gandhi — all these peopled described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken and even shy. And they all took the spotlight, even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to. And this turns out to have a special power all its own, because people could feel that these leaders were at the helm, not because they enjoyed directing others and not out of the pleasure of being looked at; they were there because they had no choice, because they were driven to do what they thought was right.”
As I move into the world of leadership and administration I have become even more fully aware of the fact that I am an introvert. It is a fact that I’ve known about myself for a long time. However, you put me in front of a room of students and I can shine, I’m not afraid or nervous.
As I listened to Susan Cain give her Ted Talk I not only thought of my students that I teach who are introverts but other teachers like myself and how I will one day be a leader with them. I thought about how will I build a culture in my building that encourages them to shine and at the same time gives them the ability to reenergize themselves after being in an environment built for extroverts.
I would encourage your to remember your introverts when you become a leader in your building. Give them occasions to shine as well as occasions to reenergize. You never know what a great leader you may have standing in the corner.
Susan Cain’s Ted Talk on her book Quiet is well worth the watch and can be found here: