I’m Not A Leader, Nor Do I Want To Be One

Because really, I can’t handle the pressure of it all. I mentioned being way out of my comfort zone trying to pull distance students at SCSU together – and believe me that feeling hasn’t abated. I’ve had a somewhat queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach all week – and it is just a little bit worse this morning. Without a doubt, I expected there to be some fallout, disagreement and even backlash. Trying to bring together a bunch of disparate students who all have different wishes, conerns and problems can be difficult – and very tiring. Trying to do so in a positive and constructive manner is even more exhausting – and sadly, might be somewhat impossible. I’m a big fan of peace and harmony, and things are a long way from that state at the moment. Maybe shaking things up every once in a while is a good thing, but I’m generally not the one who does the shaking. And I usually find the shaken state to be incredibly uncomfortable. At least now, I remember why I tend to prefer being in the background. I’m willing to be it will be a long, long time before I stick my neck out again.

10 Responses to I’m Not A Leader, Nor Do I Want To Be One

  1. rochelle says:

    I’ve come across the term “courageous follower” before. I have no doubt that you are leader material, but sometimes, it’s nice to not be in the driver’s seat. I think a courageous follower is akin to a backseat driver. 😉

  2. megan says:

    It’s hard, and I applaud you for taking the lead (however reluctantly) this time. It puts you in a good position to offer guidance/advice to others when they take the lead next time.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Rochelle, courageous follower – I like it. That is what I aspire to be. This leading stuff takes way too much out of me.

    Thanks for the commentary megan. The words of encouragement did wonders for me today.

  4. rochelle says:

    I’ve also been in a position where I thought I could be a leader, should be a leader, but in an organization which valued hierarchy. It’s hard to be a leader in an organization/situation like that. Sometimes, you have to lead, follow or get out of the way. Eventually, the tension between what I wanted to be doing and what was possible got to be way too much, and I got out of the way. WAY out of the way! Now I am in a position where I can be a leader and in which I encourage staff to take on leadership roles. I don’t think being a leader means that you have all the answers, but that you are smart enough to admit that you don’t have all the answers.

  5. Wellllllllll, let me say this about that.

    Nobody got to be a leader overnight. Quite often leadership requires the ability to ignore the butterflies in one’s stomach. You do things a few more times, and those butterflies might go away. Then, and only then, will you know if that’s your thing or not.

    Plus, really, there are only shades of leadership, not True Leaders, no matter what bombast people tell you.

    Also, you can be a leader in one area and not another.

    Finally, leadership can be very enjoyable. Yes, I said enjoyable, not “rewarding” or “important.”

    So don’t be in a hurry to conclude you don’t want to be a leader. Give it another chance, here and there.

  6. Jason says:

    Over the past few years, a handful of people have asked me if I would consider taking a “leadership position” (in the sense of managing a department), but I don’t think that I would want to do that… at least not yet. Right now, I’m content with less formal and more loosely-defined leadership opportunities. However, if enough people start telling me that I would make a good leader, I might change my mind and consider trying for an appropriate position.

    In my case, I have been in charge of some minor committees, and I have held a few elected offices, but that’s pretty much it. For the past few years, I have been the “chair” of a “booth committee” for the Automation and Technology Round Table of the Texas Library Association. However, there’s no actual committee, and no one else has expressed interest in taking the position. My “office” just sort of emerged during a meeting a few years ago. I coordinate the booth schedule, set up and take down the booth, and order freebies to lure those lurking the exhibit hall. (come to think of it, “coordinator” would be a description for my position. I should mention it at our next meeting…)

    At any rate, I don’t know if I will ever become a “major” leader, but it seems best just to go with the flow. I’d try to gauge what other people think of my abilities, see how it balances with my own readiness to be a leader (within whatever context), and go from there.

  7. Jennifer says:

    K.G., thanks for the comments. Ultimately, at school, I got caught up in something and unintentionally became a spokesperson for distance students – which is really causing me some headaches. Being a leader is definitely complex – and I really like you take on leadership. I definitely find it easier to take on somewhat of a leadership role at work – I think my role as the library technology person automatically puts me in such a position.

    Additionally, some time and perspective away from the issue at school has made many of the butterflies disappear. – and I feel a bit better about the situation. Personally, I doubt that I will ever be a Big Leader, but I do know that I need to be a bit more comfortable in being a leader when it is appropriate. Regardless of the outcome, the distance students at SCSU need someone to do something – and I guess I felt it too important to not give it a try. I’ll live – and probably will be a better person for it.

    Jason, I’ve always been a bigger fan of the loosely-defined leadership opportunities -those that make you a leadership when you really didn’t notice. These are definitely skills that some of us need time and confidence to develop.

  8. Karen says:


    I ran across this topic in the sidebar of the distance learning blog this morning and I thought “aha! someone else who didn’t want to be PM on our projects! But I see it’s more than that, and I do understand.

    Let me say that it’s my (possibly useless) opinion that you’re doing a great job with the whole “taking on” issues — I wish I had the courage to do it myself, but I really prefer to be a really good (or excellent) support person. I hate the feeling of being responsible for making sure everyone else gets their part of an assignment or job done — it’s fine when everyone cooperates, but how about when they don’t? I’ve come long way but have so long a way still to go.

    It’s good to know others are working through the same stuff.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Thanks Karen! I appreciate your words of wisdom!!

  10. […] that means I’m not a good leader, but I am not one of those people who believes that “everybody is a leader” anyway, so that’s okay, right? maybe it’s just the way things […]

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