Tag Archives: introverted leaders

Lincoln The Introverted Leader

486px-Abraham_Lincoln_November_1863
Lincoln is described as an introverted leader. In this great NY Times piece called Abraham Lincoln, Management Guru some of his introverted strengths are highlighted.

I am also lucky enough to have a friend and speaking colleague, Dr. Gene Greissman, who is the author of two books on Lincoln and an uncanny Lincoln impersonator. I asked Gene to share his thoughts on the great man and he shared the concept of Lincoln’s geekiness. Take a look at what he wrote.

Abraham Lincoln Was A Geek

Lincoln seems to be everywhere these days.  A Spielberg movie with Daniel Day-Lewis, repeated references to Lincoln in Obama’s speeches, renewed interest in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s magisterial “Team of Rivals,” and even a ridiculous movie called “Lincoln the Vampire Hunter.”

Naturally I’m pleased.  For almost three decades I’ve told audiences all over the world that Lincoln is the quintessential high achiever, worth studying by anyone interested in career success. One important lesson we can learn from this magnificent historical figure is the importance of possessing deep knowledge. That’s the reason I gave this piece the title “Abraham Lincoln was a Geek.”

Let me explain. The word “geek” means someone who is immersed in a particular subject to an extreme that is beyond normal. We speak of “sports geeks” or “social media geeks” or “political geeks.” The word always indicates deep knowledge.

And that describes Lincoln beautifully. By the time he became President, Lincoln had already acquired deep knowledge of a specialized field of law: patent law and copyright law. In Illinois, Lincoln was regarded as the lawyer to get if you went to court over a patent infringement.

Besides this, Lincoln also had acquired a deep knowledge of voting behavior. If Lincoln were alive today, he would be giving interviews to the media, and a TV guest on election nights. He had a firm grasp of voting patterns, turnout, and trends.

Here is how Lincoln comported himself the night of the 1860 presidential election. He, along with several companions, spent the evening in the second-floor office of the Illinois & Western Telegraph Company. One of the people in the room–a journalist by the name of Thurlow Weed–described the returns that were coming in as “Greek to me…but Mr. Lincoln seemed to understand their bearing on the general result in the State and commented upon every return by way of comparison with previous elections. He understood at a glance whether it was a loss or gain to his party.”

And here is the way one authoritative biography–Nicolay and Hay–describes Lincoln’s geek-like ability: He was completely at home among election figures. All his political life he had scanned tables of returns with as much care and accuracy as he analyzed and scrutinized maxims of government and platforms of parties. Now, as formerly, he was familiar with all the turning points in contested counties and ‘close’ districts, and knew by heart the value of each and every local loss or gain, and its relation to the grand result.” Obviously, not just a small-town lawyer at work here.

There’s a fundamental truth for all of us in this account. It’s an achievement factor: If you intend to become a high achiever in any field, you need to possess deep knowledge of at least one thing.Bear in mind that deep knowledge and communication skill need not be mutually exclusive. You really don’t have to choose one or the other. Put another way, it’s important to be able to tell what you know, but it is equally important to know what you tell. 

You can find more articles about Lincoln and Lincoln quotes at Gene Griessman’s websites: www.presidentlincoln.com and www.whatyousay.com.  Check out his live presentations: “Lincoln Live” and “The Language of Leadership.”  For information about a presentation for your organization, call 404-435-2225

 

Introverted Leaders Are Great for Extroverts

Another answer from our quiz last month.

#2 Introverted leaders achieve high performance levels with extroverted employees. The Answer?  True

A study published in the Academy of Management and summarized here revealed that introverts make highly effective leaders, especially with extroverted employees. Why? Because they listen! One of the study’s authors, Professor Adam Grant of the Wharton Business School said, “Introverted leaders…..are more likely to listen carefully to suggestions and support employees’ efforts to be proactive.”

 I have found this in my own work with introverted bosses. Their patience, calm demeanor and thoughtful presence set the stage for the talkers in the crowd to think their ideas out loud.  Adam, a manager I coached told me that he gives his team a “think break” in the middle of meetings to give the extroverts a bit of down time to really consider their ideas. He says that winging it doesn’t always yield the best results and he sees great power in the pause. The result? More well crafted ideas.

 

 

Should introverted MBAs take online or live classes?

I was recently asked a question about whether introverts should take MBA programs in an online format or live. ” What prepares them best for executive roles? “, the reporter asked.

I think both methods of instruction have advantages for introverts. Online MBA programs can work well for introverts. These courses play to the introvert”s strengths of thoughtful reflection, writing and preparation. In well designed online classes introverts can engage in focused dialogues with the professor and other students. An emphasis on depth vs. breadth is also a strong suit and online classes allow them to think about the material before responding. When I teach introverted business people on this platform, they openly express their thoughts and questions and respond very favorably to the process.
Successful introverted leaders also emphasize the tremendous importance of pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and continually practicing communication and interpersonal skills. Live classes can stimulate intriguing discussions and help introverts develop comfort in speaking up. Why is this important? When they step into executive roles in the workplace, having a voice in meetings creates their leadership presence. Also, feedback received on their class presentations is invaluable since public speaking has become a non-negotiable competency for business.

 

 

 

Are You Using Your Full Voice? Support The Meaning and Message You Want To Convey

 

 It was a cold, rainy November evening. I didn’t want to leave my house for a professional meeting. But the buzz was strong enough to pull me towards the warmth of a new friend, the extroadinarily gifted Barbara McAfee, singer, songwriter, vocal coach, speaker and consultant. She presented a fun and enlightening program about how we can use our voices to truly express ourselves.

 I am more than thrilled that Barbara has written her first book called Full Voice: The Art and Practice of Vocal Presence (Berrett-Koehler, 2011). Please do make an investment in this insightful guide. Full of practical tips, it will help you use your voice to support the meaning and message you truly want to convey.

If you buy Full Voice on Oct. 5th through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Berrett-Koehler a donation will go to 50 Lanterns, an organization which provides solar lanterns to people in the developing world.
Recently Barbara was kind enough to respond to some of my questions about her important work. Check out her responses and video clip below.

Full Voice

 What inspired you to write this book?
In 20 years as a voice coach, I’ve witnessed firsthand how unlocking the power of the voice impacts people’s lives, work, relationships, health, self-awareness, and aliveness. My clients tell me that the way I present the voice is memorable, pragmatic, and fun – and unlike anything they’ve ever experienced.

 

What is the main message you hope readers will take away?

 

Your voice matters more than you think. What you say and how you say it needs to be congruent in order for people to “hear” you. It’s possible to expand the range, flexibility, and ease with which you speak. When you change your voice for the better, other aspects of your life change right along with it. Learning to pay attention to your own voice makes you a more skillful listener as well.

 

What are the top 3 mistakes people make with their voice? 

 

First – Not paying attention to the voice at all. People often spend a lot of time preparing what they’re going to say without practicing how best to say it.

 

Second – Relying too much on the throat alone. The voice is most effective and interesting to listen to when it’s connected to your vital physical energy.

 

Third – Getting stuck in one vocal sound in all circumstances. Various situations demand different tones of voice. We have many more vocal choices than we imagine possible. Most of us never get a chance to discover what they are and learn how to use them in our everyday lives.

 

Many introverts say they are uncomfortable speaking loudly, yet they’re often told they need to “speak up.” 

I’ve worked with many introverted leaders over the years. I always tell them that outward expression will always be a “second language” to them. Even so, it is possible to become quite conversant in that language with practice. We use characters – such as Luciano Pavarotti or Martin Luther King, Jr. – to help introverts open up more power in their voices. Once they get used to the feeling of being louder and more present, we work to integrate those sounds into their everyday communication.

 

Can you describe the Five Elements and how it can be applied?

 

The Five Elements Framework breaks the voice into five distinct colors, much like a prism creates a rainbow out of sunlight. The elements are Earth, Fire, Water, Metal, and Air. Each one is sourced in a specific place in the body and expresses certain qualities. For example, the Fire Voice is sourced in the belly and is useful for expressing passion, personal power, and physical vitality. The Water Voice is sourced in the throat and heart and is useful for expressing caring, compassion, and affirmation. The framework allows people to choose the right voice to effectively communicate their message.

 

What do you mean by “vocal presence with awareness?”

 

Vocal presence is the state where your words, facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, emotions, imagination, and spirit are all fully engaged and congruent in conveying your message. The way to cultivate vocal presence is through awareness – paying attention to where your voice is coming from, how it sounds, and whether it matches up with your message. As your awareness of your own voice increases, it makes you listen with more accuracy and insight.

Click here to watch a short video about Full Voice.

Learn more about what full voice means on Barbara’s blog.


Do Introverts or Extroverts Curse More?

Reporter Alina Dizik contacted me about this touchy subject for her piece,  Should You Get Fired For Cursing At Work?

There is the right answer; you shouldn’t. There is also the grey response; sometimes it is okay. With the stress everyone faces these days, let’s be real. Sometimes the cursing (or “cussing” as we say down here in Atlanta) feels plain good.

But do be careful about who hears you AND about making it a habit. I sat next to another speaker recently whose body visibly shook as she heard our mutual colleague use a few choice words. Also – it just is not a career enhancing move to be known as the office potty mouth.

Who do you think curses more? Introverts or Extroverts? Because they talk more, are outies the number one cursers? Or, because introverts sometimes bottle up their feelings, do they let them out in form of expletives?

What do you think?

Some lessons from traveling abroad

I had another stimulating dialogue with innovator and author Laura Goodrich on Future Work Radio Our conversation addressed how we  can make meaningful connections in the global workplace.

Some of the highlights? Do your research by learning to pronounce names. Laura interviews her clients ahead of gigs and asks them to pronounce everyone’s name. She records this and listens on the plane ride over. Also understand the importance of attending after hour events which lead to business.  Prepare some conversation starters and questions to reduce your stress in these social situations.

And one other observation. My last trip was to Spain and the Netherlands. I noticed most people “unplugged” from their devices (unlike in the U.S.). Even in places that offered free wifi (pronounced “weefee” in Europe) this seemed to be the case. What were people doing instead? Relaxing, conversing with friends and reading. What a refreshing idea! Consider taking a line from the introvert playbook and take the time to recharge yourself.

How Can Introverts Excel in the Workplace?

I was pleased to participate in a q & a session with Associate Editor Sam Taute of the SmartBlog on Leadership.  What are the challenges and advantages of being an introvert in the workplace? Why do introverts get overlooked? What are some of the ways introverts can leverage their disposition? Read about it here:

How Can Introverts Excel in the Workplace?

Goodbye to the telephone?

I remember the day the mimeo machine gave way to the Xerox copier.  And now disappearing with that blue ink comes another relic of the baby boomers;  the telephone.

I knew it was coming.  Honestly though, I read this recent NY Times piece , Don’t Call Me, I Will Call You with mixed emotion. The basic premise is that the telephone is dead.  Pamela Paul writes,

“It’s at the point where when the phone does ring — and it’s not my mom, dad, husband or baby sitter — my first thought is: “What’s happened? What’s wrong?” My second thought is: “Isn’t it weird to just call like that? Out of the blue? With no e-mailed warning?”

Her point is well taken.  We do communicate through email, text and social networking.  When we do choose to talk on the phone, it may be to clear up a misunderstood email or to handle a more complex matter. It is common for us to make appointments for phone calls so we avoid the inevitable telephone tag. I learned this technique from introverted pros who are well prepared for those phone calls when they do occur.

The smart phone now bridges our voices so not all hope is lost for this type of connection. In a world where we are  literally tethered to our machines, it is important to be able to read each other behind the lines. How else might I find out that we are both totally confused about the latest company directive? How can I hear your perceptions about our newest customer and learn about what makes you tick?

So before we say good-bye, let’s look at how we can still use the telephone as one tool among many. It is not ready for the dump just yet, is it?