Random Thoughts on Life and Work

February 9, 2012

The Power of the Introvert

Filed under: Non-Profit — Darren Mullenix @ 10:32 am
Tags: , , ,

I happen to be one. I like to think I have special powers but I don’t talk about them. That would be wrong.

In a recent FastCompany article, Susan Cain is interviewed about her recent book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. I think I am going to have to get the book.  Two things in particular resonated with me.

The first had to do with meetings. I hate them and avoid them when I can. Especially if they are unstructured or “agendaless”. Responding to a question about the term “groupthink” Susan states:

Studies tell us that the most verbal, assertive, and dominant person’s ideas are going to be paid more attention to. However, those same studies also indicate zero correlation between the effectiveness with which an idea is advanced and its usefulness. Any time people come together in a meeting, we’re not necessarily getting the best ideas; we’re just getting the ideas of the best talkers.

I have seen this frequently and it is particularly prevalent in corporate cultures where individual creativity and initiative are not valued. Cultures that require incessant review and approval of projects stifle the creativity of introverts as they just don’t have the personality to “fight” their way through all the talking.

The second part that grabbed me had to do with the charismatic leader syndrome. We tend to forget that leadership is case specific.

We presume you need to be bold and charismatic to be a manager, but Adam Grant at Wharton found that if a company is dominated by proactive employees you often get better outcomes with an introverted leader. That’s because an introverted leader is more likely to actually let employees run with their ideas and implement them. Extroverts, however, are often unwittingly trying to put their stamp on things and since they’re more dominant, their employees’ suggestions may never even rise to the surface. 

I tend to lean to the hands-off approach of management and try to let my staff soar, supporting them when needed. I have found in cases that it works well, with staff that can live within that. However, I have also found it to fail when certain staff require constant attention and affirmation. Maybe I just manage fellow introverts better than extroverts.

What’s your style?

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1 Comment »

  1. I agree with you on the introvert  qualities 
    I’m married to one and needless to say he gets the job done. What concerns me tho is the constant comparing one against another both serve it’s purpose! As I tend to be an extrovert  I am often my husbands biggest cheerleader! I am a great encourager to those around me exspecially to those on the more shy introverted side! In a class I teach we learn to compare yourself to others is to feel inferior! Don’t compare introverts to extroverts  both serve a purpose and could use encouraging! 
    It’s not always easy being the mouth piece of the group! You often take risk for the group that can leave you holding the bag! I love my husband & I introvert extrovert  tag team together we are victorious & yes we get the job done!  

    Comment by Shantel — February 9, 2012 @ 11:03 am | Reply


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