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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.