Tag Archives: introverted leader

Are you Living in Itopia Like 84.51°?

Are you Living in Itopia Like 84.51°?

As I was finishing my new book Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces, I was fortunate to be introduced to an introvert advocate and change agent named Ryan Showalter. Ryan is Director of Consulting at a data analytics company in Cincinnati, OH named 84.51°. And he is an introverted leader.

One day, he was struck by the courage of a young man in his company who shared his difficulty in speaking in a large group. So, Ryan approached him after the session they were in and praised him for speaking up honestly. And after several conversations, they decided to start a group for introverts. They creatively named it Itopia, and are very pleased with how much it has now grown. In fact, it has become part of their diversity and inclusion initiative, fostering belonging, with an emphasis on introversion-extroversion dynamics.

I am continually impressed by 84.51°’s commitment to educating people about introversion and knocking down biases. For example, one best practice that came out of the Itopia group has been a “Flip the Script” handout. It’s given to all managers which provides specific examples of what to say and do when communicating with introverts. Also, the document is shared in Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces. And Ryan explains more about it in a special edition of this recent company-sponsored podcast called The Uplow’d. You can listen here.

Here are a few other highlights from the podcast:

“How can companies benefit from introvert strengths?”

  • Introverts go deep with projects and people, leading to strong results.
  • Engaged listening and focused conversations mean they create solutions that are built on collaboration.
  • They prepare for meetings and conversations.
  • They take quiet time and can work alone. Examples of great discoveries – the Apple Computer by Steve Wozniak, Grace Hopper and COBOL, etc.
  • They are calm and humble.

“How can extroverts become allies for introverts?”

  • Get to know yourself and your own biases.
  • Get to know Introverts on your team and ask them about their own work style and tendencies so they feel supported.
  • Set them up by helping them to prepare.
  • Speak up when you see introverts being passed over.
  • Look at your practices like hiring, leadership, and communication. Then ask introverts how they can be adapted to be more introvert-friendly.

Ryan provided many real-world examples. Also, Itopia is looking for other organizations that are organizing introverts in the effort to change our workplaces. Feel free to contact me at jennifer@jenniferkahnweiler.com and I can introduce you to Ryan.

We had a lively discussion and ended the session with a lightning round of questions. Dave, our interviewer asked us to complete the answers in 51 seconds. We just made it!  When he asked about my favorite ice cream, I didn’t hesitate. Any flavor of Grater’s ice cream! And anyone who has lived or visited Cincinnati (headquarters for the company) will know what I mean. In fact, I think ice cream is probably one area of commonality introverts and extroverts can both agree on.

Key Lessons From Introverted Leaders Around the World

Interviews with Introverted Leaders Around the World

Clockwise l to r, Richar Ruiz(Paraguay), Jill Chang (Taiwan), Steve Glaveski (Australia) Johanna Vondeling (US), Frank Hagenow(Germany) and Faris Khalifeh (Canada)

Last year I decided that I wanted to go deeper with some of the terrific introverted leaders I have encountered in my work. What were some of their key lessons? I started an interview series called “Introverted Leaders Around the World.” And I am so glad I did!

These leaders are consultants, executives, and entrepreneurs. They identify as introverts but sometimes aren’t sure about where they fall on a given day.  Others are introvert advocates. And in these short talks we connected on many levels, despite our different personality styles, nationalities, gender, and sometimes age. Here are some snapshots of lessons I gleaned from a few of them. I hope you will check out all of the interviews on my YouTube channel.

Richard Ruiz

My first interview was with a psychologist and life coach, Richar Ruiz. Richar is a delightful person who learned English by watching movies. He puts the spotlight on introverts and highlights their strengths. He helps them gain confidence by teaching them public speaking and storytelling skills. Paraguay is an introverted country and his take on how that has impacted people is fascinating.

Johanna Vondeling

Johanna Vondeling is President and Publisher of Berrett-Koehler Publishers in Oakland, CA. She is an introverted leader who has progressed through an impressive career in the male-dominated leadership ranks of publishing. In our interview, Johanna advises introverts to connect with people before networking events to set up appointments and follow up after events. “Listening is your superpower,” Johanna says. “And as an introvert, you have that skill. People need to be heard! She has noted that in her role of President, “People value that I am quiet.” Johanna says she believes her role as a leader is to “facilitate the brilliance in the room.”

Steve Glaveski

Steve Glaveski is an introverted entrepreneur, author, and podcast host from Melbourne, Australia. He also emphasizes the listening power of introverts. He said that introverts connect the dots and are problem solvers. Steve advises to “hold strong opinions loosely” and that we can’t be SURE about anything. Steve pushes himself with solitary sports and finds joy in mentoring young people. One listener was inspired by Steve’s comments to write, ” I tend to be more methodical or thoughtful while planning. My partners tend to be better at bringing a lot of people around the project. One thing we have had in common is an entrepreneurial mindset and willingness to take risks.”

I had the pleasure of being on Steve’s podcast, Future Squared. You can listen here if you want to get a sense of his great questioning ability.

Check out the other accomplished introverted leaders and advocates on our channel. And be sure to subscribe to get updates on all of our videos. We are looking to book more great guests so please send them our way! Thanks.

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?