Tag Archives: introverted leader

Unplugged Discussion on Being an Introverted Leader

Introverted Leader Discussion at Outset Medical     Introverted Leader Discussion at Outset Medical

What are the challenges of being an introverted leader? That’s exactly what we discussed when I visited Outset Medical, a fast growing, pioneering medical technology company that is reimagining dialysis for patients and health care providers.

I entered the Outset offices and was greeted by my host, Jennifer Mascioli-Tudor, Vice President of Quality Assurance & Regulatory Affairs.

I immediately sensed the quiet.  There were lots of people working, but no loud voices – probably driven by the nature of their work in technology, but also by the fact that there are so many introverts in this organization (as is the case with most technology organizations).

Jennifer is an introverted leader and said she pushed herself to take a lead role in moderating our session. Jen (we both agreed we don’t identify with the name “Jenny”) was in one my leadership classes several years ago and we have stayed in touch, mostly because of her strong interest in introversion and her desire to bring the topic to her company.

The group of diverse employees gathered in their central area and we dove right in. We had a wide-ranging, open and honest discussion about being introverts in the work place. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Jennifer said that trying to interject with extroverts sometimes takes “a leap of faith.” She feels extroverts are often “brainstorming aloud” and that it is hard to keep up with the conversation when you are reflecting on one comment while they’ve gone on to the next one. We talked about using a hand gesture to signal their attention and that they usually don’t take interrupting personally.
  • Introverts sometimes smile to keep people away. The downside is that when they do this, others think they agree with an idea – even if they that is not the case. So be aware of possible mixed messages that can be transmitted if what you are expressing on your face doesn’t match what you are thinking.
  • May people could relate to the introvert’s aversion to social situations, especially when they come up at the last minute. Jennifer relayed the example of  stress of being asked at 5:00 p.m. to attend a party at 8:00 p.m. Terrifying!
  • We discussed reframing the idea of selling yourself to focusing on sharing results. Having some visibility is important and others can highlight your accomplishments as well.
  • As this company expands and hires more salespeople, the introverts will need to adjust to the extroverts. We discussed how to create Genius Opposites, those partners who achieve extraordinary results, and drew from concepts from my book. One of the ideas we discussed was “Accept the Alien.” That means you know that you will not change your opposite. And when you accept this, you are in for a lot less stress!

Outset Medical sponsors a discussion series at its company headquarters in San Jose, CA. It is called “Unplugged.” People with ideas are brought in for an informal chat with an executive, and the idea is to learn and provoke new thinking.

Here is the Unplugged interview I did following the session with Stacey Porter, VP of People Operations & Strategy, and also an introverted leader at Outset Medical, Inc.

How To Deliver Bad News in a Positive Way

Guest Post by Dianna Booher

Introverts often prefer communicating through writing. Sometimes leaders must take a position or summarize a verbal presentation over email. When this is bad news, it is not easy. But author Dianna Booher has written a book all about that: Faster Fewer Better Emails. In this guest post Dianna provides ways to communicate your message when it isn’t an easy one to convey.

Acknowledge the Facts

If the economy is free-falling, say so. If sales are sinking, say so. If the team is performing poorly, share your numbers. If your organization looks lousy beside the competition, come clean about the market feedback.

Nothing opens people’s minds and raises their estimation of your credibility like admitting the truth—and nothing decreases your credibility like ignoring the obvious or blaming, demonizing, or scapegoating others. You understand how pathetic that makes politicians look if you’ve ever heard them rationalize election results after a dramatic loss or listened to CEOs try to explain away poor earnings after failure to achieve their goals.

Small people shun responsibility. However, strong people shoulder it.

Stop Sugarcoating the Unknown and Unknowable

“Things will work—give it time!” “Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine.” “It’ll all work itself out. It always does.” Such are the assurances parents give their kids. You expect them and even appreciate them—at age thirteen. But to an adult hearing such platitudes from bosses, colleagues, or friends who could not possibly know the future and how a situation will actually turn out, these remarks sound empty, if not insulting to your intelligence.

That’s not to say you can’t offer comforting words. You can and should. But to be helpful and consoling, those words should be the right words. Aim to get past the clichés and all-will-be-well platitudes to meaningful comments that encourage and give direction.

Focus on Options for the Future

In a negative situation, strong introverted leaders focus others on positive alternatives and actions with the power of their words. So, if you’re communicating about a tanking economy, the alternative may be to encourage listeners to change investment strategies for their 401K funds. If you’re communicating to comfort employees after personal property destruction because of a weather-related disaster, you could encourage them to consider rebuilding in another area. If you’re announcing a layoff––in addition to communicating compassion––you might focus on the option of new training for updated skills or offer contacts for their job search.

Structure the Message Appropriately

So, for either an email or conversation, how can you organize your bad-news message?

    1. Start on either a positive or neutral note.
    2. Elaborate on the current situation or your criteria/reasoning for making the negative decision.
    3. State the bad news (as positively as possible).
    4. Offer an alternative to meet the person’s goals, when possible.
    5. End with a goodwill statement focused on the future.

To increase your credibility in a bad-news situation, ditch a down-in-the-mouth demeanor. As an introverted leader, give helpful straight talk about the substantive issue and your words will be heard.

 

Dianna Booher’s latest books include Faster, Fewer, Better Emails, Communicate Like a Leader, What MORE Can I Say?, and Creating Personal Presence. She’s the bestselling author of 48 books, published in 61 foreign editions. Dianna helps organizations communicate clearly and leaders to expand their influence by a strong executive presence. National Media such as Good Morning America, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes, have featured her work on communication. www.BooherResearch.com @DiannaBooher

The Quiet Leadership Speaker Who Stunned the Crowd

The quiet leadership speaker who stunned the crowd.

In the last few days, we have learned more about Robert F. Smith, leadership speaker and Austin billionaire who quietly announced at the 2019 Morehouse College commencement that he was paying off the student loans of each and every one of the 400 graduates. There was shock and then sheer exuberance at the realization that this tremendous financial burden would be lifted.This generous gift will change the lives of these graduates who can feel free to move ahead in their careers without the burden of financial debt.

So who is this man who performed such a generous gesture? There isn’t a ton on line about him but what videos and clips exist reveal a person who doesn’t want the spotlight except when he must stand in it. This makes me wonder if Robert Smith may be introverted in temperament. Introverts shy away from lots of attention unless it serves a purpose..

In videos of his speeches and interviews he describes how he learned and grew in his career.

What else about Mr. Smith have we learned?
  • He believes in having grit,…”calling someone each day for 5 months finally materializing in something you what you want” was an example he shared.
  • Discover the joy of figuring things out. “Fight through those problems.
  • He admired James Bond growing up.
  • He builds and develop people in his company, Vista Equity Partners. 
  • He is a deep thinker as evidenced in his interviews. A technology and business background supports this.
  • He gives to many causes, In addition to Morehousethe NY Times reports that “Cornell renamed its School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after Mr. Smith, and he has made major gifts to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture and other cultural institutions. “
  • He  seized opportunities in each position he was in at Kraft, Goldman Sachs and Bell Labs before he founded his company.
  • He believes in the importance of studying. “You can make more money being smart than being strong or fast.” No one else can take intellectual property from you.

Robert F. Smith  has stayed under the radar until now. The NY Times reported, “Though he shunned the spotlight for many years, he has recently embraced a more public role, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and making major charitable contributions.”

Mr. Smith opened his heart and his purse. Whether he is an introvert or not may be revealed. What is certain, is that this leadership speaker has changed the course of hundreds of lives.

What Can Project Managers Learn from Introverted Leaders?

This podcast planning flow chart is an example of how Velociteach
practices project management principles in everything they do! 

 

Who Are Project Managers?

I have always admired project managers (PM’s). Their organization and ability to pull together disparate projects on deadline and under budget is impressive. Often promoted from their technical homes in Engineering, Science, and Technology, they get work done!

Influencing people without having formal authority also means that project managers need to refine and sharpen their skills in communication, persuasion, and negotiation. I have found that successful Introverted leaders have learned to use their natural strengths like listening and preparation to accomplish these tasks. They have many lessons to offer PM’s who must navigate their roles up, down, and across the organization.

Partnering with PM’s 

Working with a vibrant project management training company called Velociteach, I developed a course based on the lessons learned from these introverted leaders across a wide variety of industries and organizations.

In preparation, I stopped into the Manage This podcast studio and was interviewed by Bill Yates and Andy Crowe, the executives at Velociteach. As seasoned PM’s, they opened up about the challenges and benefits of leveraging their introverted and extroverted sides. As an extrovert and introvert “Genius Opposite” pair, you will hear how they balance each other out. We also had some good laughs in our time together.

The whole staff threw themselves into the development of my new course and worked the material themselves. We had a number of stimulating conversations about how their own personality preferences served them. Jordan Demers, Media Arts Designer and one of the course developers shared her learning about embracing her own “pause” as an introvert in one of those exchanges.

What You Get from Taking the Course 

Together, we created a compact course with hard-hitting lessons and numerous practical tools.  It is called The Introverted Leader: Leading a Team In Today’s Extroverted Workplace, and it is getting strong reviews.

The good news is you will receive 4.5 PDU’s after listening and watching. There are also lots of handouts and many tools!

I believe this online program is engaging and informative. And as a member of my community, I am pleased to offer you 15% off the regular price. Just use the promo code INTROVERT15 and you are ready to go! Whether you manage projects as your full-time job or just as part of your work, I hope this course helps you gain more control over your work. I would love to hear your feedback. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Introverted and Extroverted Leaders

introverted and extroverted leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with COO Sheryl Sandberg

I am writing a new book on how to be successful in Introvert-Extrovert partnerships. In reviewing the research I came across a blog post I wrote 4 years ago. It is based on a NY Times article that describes the relationship between the CEO and COO of Facebook.  Here it is: 

An unlikely pair that works, Extrovert Sheryl Sandberg and Introvert Mark Zuckerberg, COO and CEO of Facebook, respectively are profiled in an article called Mark Zuckerberg’s Most Valuable Friend by Miguel Helft in the NY Times. I believe that these introverted and extroverted leaders have at least four key elements found in well oiled relationships.

1) Respect for  differences. Sandberg is an extrovert. Zuckerberg is an introvert. A lot of people choose to hire people who look exactly like them,” Mr. Zuckerberg says. “Here we just value balance a lot more.”

2) Loyalty – Ms. Sandberg defends her boss against his critics. She says he is warm underneath that reserved exterior. “He is shy and introverted and he often does not seem very warm to people who don’t know him, but he is warm,” Ms. Sandberg says of Mr. Zuckerberg, her voice rising with empathy. “He really cares about the people who work here.”

3) Coaching – They support each other by offering honest and direct feedback. They are not afraid to push back on decisions and provide emotional support. “At a technology conference this summer, for instance, Mr. Zuckerberg flopped during an onstage interview. He gave rambling answers to questions about Facebook’s privacy policies, became visibly nervous and started sweating profusely. After the interview, Ms. Sandberg encouraged him not to beat himself up over it, but to focus on parts of the interview that went well so he could do better next time….”

4) Frequent and Regular Meetings – In their Monday morning and Friday afternoon face to face meetings, they address strategy, personnel, deals and each other. There is just no getting around sitting down face to face to iron out differences and make decisions.  I am relieved to see these two social media leaders modeling conversation beyond the screen.

Update: When they get past their differences  Introverted and Extroverted leaders can be tremendously helpful to each other.  They put the outcomes of their work first and don’t get bogged down in the process of communication.

 I would love to see an update to this article. How has their relationship evolved several years later? I will dig around and see what I can discover. 

Send me any examples from your own experience of working with your opposite type. Challenges and positives welcomed.  I can include your examples in the book. 

Career Evaluation: Look In The Rearview Mirror

Introverts, Jennifer Kahnweiler

After the NSA-GA radio show with NSA-GA President and host Dez Thornton.

In hindsight, what are some of the lessons you learned from your career?

One of the things that happens when you step into the “seasoned” category is that younger people start asking you about your past. It has been a strange and gratifying experience; now that I am able to connect the dots from my various career experiences, things seem to make more sense. For instance, my job as a career coach helped me recently when I was responding to a reporter’s rapid fire questions about introvert angst. From this rearview mirror perspective I see the same issues repeatedly emerge.

Another example: Spending too much $ on the wrong biz service providers emerges again and again (and again) in the “lessons learned category.” I am a slow learner!

In an interview I did last month with Dez Thornton, top notch speaker, President of NSA-GA and host of the radio show Speaking Insights  we discussed the story behind The Introverted Leader and Quiet Influence . I focused on lessons learned from my speaking career. In one story I described leaving the room because I didn’t know how to handle the hostility of a group of downsized IBM employees in the first wave of job cuts ever. But that experience made me realize that I needed to acknowledge the resistance, hurt and anger those people felt; not be afraid to confront those feelings and succumb to my own fears.

It does feel weird to quote myself but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to pay attention to my own words again! Here are a few:

” Before I selected a niche I didn’t feel like I had a leadership identity when I was speaking on the topic of leadership.”

” The connection is what counts and it leads to business.”

” Speak a lot for practice.”

” Get work from the work that you do.”

” Partner with organizations when you want to work internationally.”

“The book and the speech are symbiotic.”

” I own the role of speaker now from being involved with the National Speakers Association.

What are your quotes as you look In your own rearview mirror? 

 

 

 

Introvert Qualities: Listen and Learn

Introvert Qualities “Engaged Listening helps you understand what’s going on around you, what people are thinking and feeling, threads of themes, and even what key pieces of the puzzle might be missing.”  p. 74

Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference

How is your listening going lately? Could you use a tune up? In what situations might revving up your listening power help you learn more?

I have learned so much about the introvert qualities of listening and pausing as I wear my interviewer’s hat. Gathering research for a book on successful Introvert-Extrovert work partnerships, I listen to recorded stories driving around Atlanta, taking neighborhood walks, and sipping drinks at my local coffee shop. The audio recordings of these sessions reveal rich tapestries and clues and I am both moved and totally engaged. While the puzzle pieces are yet to be assembled, strong themes are emerging. I know that listening will provide the answers I need.

Engaged Listening is one of the introvert qualities that lead to successful interviewing. I hope you find some of these interviewing tips useful.

 

Jennifer Kahnweiler’s Five Tips for Successful Interviewing 

  

1.

Provide questions to your interviewees before talking with them. It helps them to reflect on the answers. This is an introvert sweet spot btw. The responses you get will be thoughtful and well considered.   

2.
Pause after asking a question. You extroverts might struggle with this one, but believe me, it works. Count “1, 2, 3” in your head and don’t try to fill the silence. Ask them if they need more time to think and then let them take it.
3.

Record the interview with your interviewee’s permission. I use the recording feature on GoToMeeting and love it. Don’t worry about getting everything down on paper and replay the audio to hear voice tone and nuance.

4.
Ask open-ended follow-up questions to explore avenues that pique your interest. For instance, “Can you give me an example?” or “Take me back to that day and describe in more detail what occurred?”
5.
Encourage your interviewee’s questions. You might have overlooked what could turn out to be a nugget. A fave question of mine is “What question haven’t I asked you?”

Come Learn With Me at Mobile Business Academy

FinalLogoDave Basarab #1

I am so fortunate to have friends who are doing such cool things! Dave Basarab is one of those people who may just be revolutionizing the learning scene. This week his brainchild,  Mobile Business Academy, 12 years in the making has launched and It is bound to be a big hit.

Dave has brought over 30 years as a training expert and learning professional to the problem of finding time to learn. And he has emerged with a beautifully elegant and simple solution called “Learning Bursts, ” which are 8 to 10-minute talk-show style audio casts with accompanying punchy workbook material, They cover subjects like innovation, marketing, creativity, collaboration, being brilliant and introverted leadership.

Bursts can be downloaded and listened to wherever and whenever, making world- class business training accessible for busy people on the go. Companies like IBM and Booz & Co. have successfully trained thousands of employees using Basarab’s learning burst methods. And lucky for us, they are now available to anybody and everyone for a very reasonable cost.

I was honored when Dave asked me to offer The Introverted Leader  in the first wave of offerings. As you will hear in our recorded conversation about the launch (at the top of this post) he calls the learning burst approach “voyeuristic”,  similar to listening in on a conversation. We recorded my bursts in his kitchen over a cup of coffee and you might even hear cups in the background!

Dave reminded me that we have learned through stories for thousands of years and it is the way we are introduced to life before learning to to read. This audio approach with written reinforcement (all the short workbooks have quizzes and summaries)  is truly time tested.

Listen while waiting in line for the groceries or driving in the car by downloading them to all your devices. How easy is that?  And since we learn best in short segments, only one topic is covered at a time. Hear snippets of any of the many bursts as many times as you like.

I am upping my game by listening to Simon T. Bailey’s Shift To Brilliance.  Browse all 5 programs and download your samples today.  Like with any new venture, feedback on the content and delivery system is welcomed. Won’t you join me on this learning journey? I look forward to it!