I Remember...., My Noodle

Leadership Material?

I’m a leader. I am. But I’m not your standard leader. I don’t go after authoritative power anymore. I have found that I’m not consistent and stable enough to be a manager. I tend to scare people if I have authoritative power.

So, I lead from below. If I see a need, I tend to step in. If something needs to be said, I say it. I try to help. And if it seems like there’s an emergency going on, I tend to get more involved than usual.

Now, I know that Mark Manson is right when he says “Things are rarely as bad as you think they are…” but my fight/flight/freeze/fawn reaction gets triggered and I end up trying to control everything.

That’s what’s been happening at work. Things are not going as well as I want them to and I try to get things going by getting into everything, writing documents, making choices, and getting after the Devs.

I think I’m annoying the managers.

It’s not the first time. Heck I’ve taken over some major situations as an emergency leader:

  • A domestic flight (Delta)
  • A multi-car pileup
  • The CEOs Meeting

The Domestic Flight

It’s your typical flight nightmare. Something happened to our plane, so they had to switch it out. The problem was that it was a completely different plane than the original and the seats didn’t match up. So, they randomly assigned everyone new seats.

Now this might sound like a reasonable thing to do, but there were infants and toddlers on that flight. No regard was taken to families traveling together or other needs.

Toddlers were assigned to seats in rows different than their parents. Old folks were seated separately. There were groups of friends who were determined to sit together. And there was one irate cowboy.

No one wanted to sit in their randomly assigned seats. There were a ton of people standing in the aisles, all pissed off.

I’d gotten on early and had already switched my seat with an elderly man who was separated from his wife and was in the back of the plane.

I sat there highly amused by all the chaos. Another elderly man was trying to shove something that was clearly not going to fit into the overhead compartment. The flight attendants had lost all control over the plane. Mayhem ruled.

Then, I realized that we weren’t going to be taking off any time soon, and I was going to miss my connecting flight if we didn’t get a move on.

So…I took over.

I started rearranging the plane, making sure that families sat together.

There was only one hiccup. When I tried to get three young fellows to vacate their seats so a family could sit there, they rebelled. Then the cowboy got involved and questioned their manhood and called them babies because they wouldn’t move. I got the cowboy and the guys settled down and worked it out. The oversized item got checked.

And we got on our way.

I made my connecting flight. Crisis averted.

The Multi-Car Pileup

I was working at Sprynet over in Factoria. It was a Friday evening, the end of my first week of work in Seattle. Heck, I’d only been in Seattle a bit over a month.

There I am, in traffic on I-90. Minding my own business, going about 5 miles an hour, when I was actually moving. This is quite a change from the traffic in Omaha!

Suddenly, my car is pushed forward and to the left. I managed to stop the car inches from the side of a cement wall.

I looked behind me. There was a green Jeep Cherokee, upside down, behind me, a guy hanging upside down and trying to get out. And there were quite a few more cars involved.

I hit no one.

Apparently, I was on the tail end of a multi-car pileup. What happened was the Jeep Cherokee was flying down the express lanes when a woman, with her children, realized that they could be in the express lane and pulled into it from a dead stop. The Jeep swerved, hitting several cars, before going airborne and flipping over, finally landing on the back of my car.

Side Note: There should be some law about going 65 miles an hour in an express lane when all the cars are barely moving. Jus’ sayin’.

Someone came by to check on me. There was blood everywhere, but I wasn’t critical. I got out of the car.

The ambulances and fire trucks showed up and they all ran around like crazy people.

Some of the firemen tried to do something with my car by ramming it against the concrete wall. Clearly, the logic of physics escaped them, and clearly, no one was in charge.

So…I took over.

I started ordering the firemen about. At first, they looked at me like I was out of my mind, then realized I knew what I was talking about and took my orders.

Then I started organizing everyone else.

It didn’t last long. The EMTs figured out that the bleeding woman who was ordering everyone around was actually an accident victim and dragged me away to check me out.

Then the tow truck for my car showed up.

They wanted to put me in an ambulance and take me to the hospital, but as anyone acquainted with me knows, I didn’t want to go to no stinking hospital.

I rode with the tow driver. He knew of a body shop close to an emergency care center, so that’s where we went.

The emergency care staff wanted to call an ambulance on me but finally just let me sit in the waiting room for a few hours “for observation” before letting me leave.

What can I say? I’m hardheaded.

That weekend I bought my first car in Seattle. My little Horizon was totaled.

The CEOs Meeting

One morning, I was on my way to the gym and as I was running across Madison up on 14th in Seattle, I tripped, fell, and broke my wrist in 3 places.

I went to the emergency care, remember that I don’t like hospitals, and they set me up with an appointment to really get it checked out and fixed at another facility. I was set up with a surgical appointment the next day and put my wrist in a device.

Then, I went to work. I’m pretty hard-headed.

The CEO of our company was having a big meeting. Because my wrist was broke and I was in pain, clearly there was an emergency situation.

So…I took over.

I addressed the meeting, saying I have no idea what, and then checking with the CEO.

“Blah, blah, blah! Right Gary?”

“Right, Karin!”

“Blah! Blah, blah, blah. Right Gary?”

“Right, Karin!”

This went on for a while until I said something he didn’t agree with.

“Wrong, Karin!”

And…he took over.

I was a bit confused by that. After all, I’m hurting. Clearly, I should be in charge.

Emergency Leader

The point is, I tend to try to take over in emergencies. It’s in my nature.

I don’t really want to be in charge of anything, but if it feels like I’m needed, like some sort of demented superheroine, I step up. Whether they want me to or not.

And that’s where I’m at with work. It feels like they need me, but I keep getting shot down. I’m not used to being shot down. I’m used to being listened to and being allowed to be that emergency leader. It’s hard to make that switch.

But make that switch is what I need to do. My ass is going to get fired someday if I don’t.

So, how am I going to do that? Hummm?

Ideas? Questions? Complaints?