Tag Archives: introverted leaders

Do You Know the Secret to Being an Ace Interviewer? Introverts Do!

Guest blog by Dean Nelson

I met author and journalism professor Dean Nelson last year at a writing workshop. I was so pleased to hear that he has incorporated many practical lessons about interviewing into his new book, Talk to Me: How to Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro. We both agreed that preparation is the absolute key to ANY successful interview. So whether you have a project or a podcast, check out Dean’s tips in the guest blog post below.

There is a myth out there that the only people who can get sources to talk to them are the hard-charging extroverts, the people who exude confidence through their pores, who have no trouble walking up to strangers and getting them to say things they wouldn’t say even after the fourth waterboarding treatment.

It’s simply not true.

There are some people who see no stranger danger, but most of us are a little more reluctant. Most of us know full well that it takes a willful suspension of discomfort to interview a stranger.

One of my favorite movies is Almost Famous, which is based on a true story of Cameron Crowe’s experience of being on the road with a rock and roll band. The movie is a terrific tribute to rock, and a poignant coming of age story. But if you watch it through the prism of interviewing, it is a clinic on how to conduct interviews when you lack confidence. The main character, William, is 15. And the best way to describe him is “awkward.”

Early in the movie he gets an assignment from the Creem, the rock magazine, to interview the band Black Sabbath. But that interview doesn’t work out. It seems he wasn’t assertive enough. As he trudges away from the arena where they blew him off, another band passes him. He follows them to the stage door and tries to engage them.

“Hi, I’m a journalist. I write for Creem magazine,” he says.

This band is equally dismissive. He seems discouraged, but tries one more thing.

“Russell. Jeff. Ed. Larry,” William says, instantly gaining credibility. “I really love your band. I think the song ‘Fever Dog’ is a big step forward for you guys. I think you guys producing it yourselves, instead of Glyn Johns, was the right thing to do. And the guitar sound was incendiary.”

William gestures with a fist, says, “Way to go,” and starts to walk away.

“Well don’t stop there,” one of the musicians yells.

“Yeah, come back here! Keep going! I’m incendiary, too!”

Then the backstage door opens and they pull him in with them.

Preparation will triumph over personality every time.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself when you consider talking to a source, a client, a customer, a witness, or whomever else you think might be reluctant to talk to you:

  • Why do you want to talk to this person? You’d be surprised how often people don’t think about this ahead of time.
  • What do you hope will be the outcome of this conversation?
  • What can I ask this person that hasn’t already been asked many times? In other words, what will make your conversation unique?
  • How can you make this conversation appeal to the source’s self interest?

And here are some methods that will give you confidence as you enter into that conversation:

  • Before the interview, educate yourself on the topic. In the age of Google, there is no excuse to not already know a lot of the answers you’re looking for. What you want from the interview is the human voice, the insight, the complexity.
  • Put your questions in order. Know where the interview is going.
  • Ask the difficult question, even if it’s awkward. Believe me, they’re expecting it.

Doing these things won’t make you someone you’re not. They’ll make you comfortable with who you are, so that you can be authentically you.

If you’re authentic and prepared, you’ll be amazed at the access people will give you. They might even call you incendiary!

 

Dean Nelson, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the journalism program at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, and the host of the annual Writer’s Symposium By The Sea. His new book, published by HarperCollins, is “Talk To Me: How To Ask Better Questions, Get Better Answers, and Interview Anyone Like a Pro.” This essay is adapted from that book.

https://www.amazon.com/Talk-Me-Questions-Answers-Interview/dp/1982610093

See his interviews with writers at www.deannelson.net

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?