Guest Blogger, Jill Golledge, shares the twists and turns of her journey of discovering, stretching, and embracing her true self.
Growing up, I was always one of the quieter ones, constantly told to “speak up more”, or to “contribute more in group discussions.” I rarely put my hand up to answer questions in class and I hated the thought of having to stand up in front of others and speak! I’d feel the burning in my cheeks as they glowed red with embarrassment, I’d have sweaty palms and my heart would race as I waited for my turn to speak. Of course, I know now that these feelings were the effects of anxiety on my body, however, it would be another 15 years before I would find out that I was an introvert and things would all start to make sense.
The scientist in me!
I always had a passion for science. It just made sense to me and I loved finding out about how the body and mind worked. It was no real surprise then that these were the subjects I excelled in, and I knew that I would have a career in a science field. That is when I first found out about Forensic Science, and it was like all the planets had aligned when I was successful in obtaining a role as a forensic scientist straight after college even though I had secured a place at university. I felt at home in the lab environment, I could work alone but also had the support of others when I was unsure, which really helped to build my self-confidence. The exacting nature of the work suited my tendency to want to get things right the first time and I loved the level of focus and detail required.
I was probably in my mid-twenties when I first completed the Myers-Briggs personality test and realised that I had an introverted personality. I was amazed at how it explained a great deal about how I had felt and acted up until that point: Why I had struggled with decision-making, especially when I was making decisions about my own life, why I disliked small talk and felt as though I was no good at making conversation with people I didn’t know well, and why I felt so exhausted after those social situations. At the time, I seemed to focus on the negative aspects of my introversion, rather than all the superpowers it gave me! I was even a little embarrassed to tell people! Sadly, even today, those negative connotations still exist for many people. A simple Google search of the word introvert will give you definitions such as a wallflower, or a reticent person, which is just plain wrong. I hadn’t yet reflected on all the strengths I had because of my introverted tendencies, like the fact that I always looked for innovative ways to do something better, rather than just complain and do nothing. I also hadn’t realised that my attention to detail and focus were in fact the strengths that had led me to excel in this unique career.
Introverts tend to be high achievers, and I was no exception! Work sponsored me to complete a degree part-time whilst I was working, and although it took me 4 years, I came out of it with a first-class honours degree in applied biology. I was proud of what I had achieved. However, as many introverts do, I just brushed it off as “it was nothing,” because I didn’t like being the centre of attention. I have definitely improved at accepting positive feedback over the years and have learnt to just say “thank you!” but it still doesn’t come easy.
Whilst learning and growing as a person was always important to me, I discovered a real passion to develop others. I became a trainer and traveled to Abu Dhabi, where I trained their Police staff in forensic examinations. Looking back now, this was a real step out of my comfort zone, staying in another country alone, with a very different culture to the UK, but I loved it! I learnt that I was adaptable, able to communicate effectively at all levels, and of course I had that all-important time alone to recoup my energy levels.
To develop my training and presentation skills further, I stepped out of my comfort zone once again and put myself forward for a facilitation and coaching secondment, where I co-facilitated a leadership course for the middle management of the organisation I was working for. It was here that I first discovered coaching and gained my coaching accreditation. I saw the benefits of coaching first-hand, seeing my coachee’s having those light-bulb moments when I helped them to re-frame their thinking. It was also the first time that I had received coaching myself and I remember coming away with such clarity and self-realisation. I developed such a passion for coaching, that I brought this back into my department after the secondment and continued coaching around my role.
The Thoughtful Leader
Working in a large organisation for over 25 years, I’ve experienced all of the unique challenges that introverts face in working environments set up for extroverts. Struggling to concentrate in open-plan offices, finding it hard to get my voice heard in meetings, struggling to get that promotion, and ultimately loosing passion for a role I had once loved. I had held myself back from going for senior leadership roles because I worried that I didn’t have the skills, or worried I’d be judged by others.
At the end of 2021, I was experiencing burnout. Still getting our heads around Covid-19 and how life had changed so incredibly, I’d been simultaneously wearing many hats, as a Forensic Scientist, coach, homeschool teacher, wife, daughter, and mother. My volume of work had exploded, and as many introverts do, I was putting everyone else’s needs before my own and it all got too much! I couldn’t let my exacting standards slip in any area of my life, however, the time pressures I was under were making it very difficult to sustain. I was exhausted! I finally asked for help, however, my manager at the time wasn’t particularly supportive so I found my own strategies to get back on an even keel. I put in boundaries to not accept any more work, prioritised, and focussed only on the next small task until it was completed. I scheduled some self-care time and sought coaching, which made me realise that I needed to make a change.
That change came by focussing on what was important to me; developing others and helping them to be their best! That is when The Thoughtful Leader was born. Of course in becoming an entrepreneur, I have had to make some massive mindset shifts in myself, largely around my identity moving from being an employee to being the director of my own business. I’ve also had to be visible and share my views. However, justice and fairness have always been important values to me; therefore, despite my naturally introverted personality, speaking up is something I have never shied away from when I am genuinely passionate about a subject. I no longer want to see introverts hiding who they truly are because I genuinely believe that introverts make great leaders and bring something special to leadership that businesses are missing out on. Having experienced the unique challenges that introverts face in the corporate world, I am now an advocate for introverts and help them step into their superpowers with confidence, passion, and authenticity!
Bio: Jill Golledge
Jill Golledge is a passionate and dedicated leadership coach who specializes in empowering introverted female leaders to thrive in their professional journeys. With a profound understanding of the unique challenges faced by introverted women in leadership roles, Jill is committed to helping them unlock their full potential so that they can lead with confidence, passion, and authenticity.
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