At the book signing with Librarian Catherine Noble, an attendee at the Quiet Influence presentation.
It was a privilege to speak last week at the American Library Association conference in Las Vegas, NV. The focus of my talk was on how librarians can address the leadership challenges they face today not by morphing into Extroverts but by drawing from an array of “introvert friendly” tools and approaches.
Prior to the speech I interviewed several leaders who were attending the program. I learned about how maintaining relevancy, shifting to linked data and generational shifts in the workplace are some of the hurdles faced by librarians today.
Libraries and librarians have had a special place in my heart. My Dad, Alvin Boretz was a screenwriter who grew up in the Depression and books where his lifeblood. The library was his second home and it became mine. Dad led the renovation and transformation of our local library. In an act of seeming reciprocity, the library system returned a gift to him. In later years, his collection of scripts, notes, letters and research were catalogued at the Film and Theater Archives at the University of Wisconsin . I wrote a blog post about the wonderful librarian who took on the project as well as our visit to that special place.
I will always remember the warm reception and appreciation for introverts shown by the crowd. At the book signing after my talk participants received copies of Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide To Making A Difference and Steve Piersanti, CEO of Berrett-Koehler spoke with a few of the people waiting on line. One young woman, Jessica Johnson, a masters candidate in Library and Information Science at Emporia State University, shared the sentiment many people expressed. She said, ” ……I felt that you were talking to me. I can be myself and don’t have to try to be someone else.”
I have a special place in my heart for nurses, especially since my older daughter is a pediatric nurse in a children’s hospital. I found the comments from this self- aware Chief Executive, Joyce Ramsey-Coleman of Children’s Hospital to be on point. As a servant leader, she is practicing Push (stretching and growing) by building in face time and using her strength as a thoughtful listener to impact her staff of 2,000.
She is a “real lifer” to look up to! Check out Laura Raine’s excellent piece in Pulse, a pub of the AJC.
President Obama an introvert? Note what he tells Ed Henry of CNN at his recent press conference. ” I like to know what I am talking about before I speak.” Is that a clue? We already know that he is a great listener. On the other hand, some have commented that it was his way of putting off the question from Henry(about waiting to act on AIG bonuses). What do you think? Is our new President an introverted leader?
If I was an employee again I think I would want to work for this guy – Kevin Sharer, CEO of Amgen.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/business/29corner.html?pagewanted
A sample from his interview in the 3/28/09 NY Times Corner Office piece.
“So I posed several questions to the senior staff: What are the three things you’d like to make sure that we keep? What three things would you like to change? What is it that you would like me to do? What is it you’re afraid I’m going to do? And then, finally: Is there anything else you want to talk about?I talked to the top 150 people in the company one at a time for an hour. I invited them to bring in, if they wished, written responses so I could have them. I took very careful notes. I wasn’t trying to sell anything. I was trying to deeply listen. And in a science-based company, we value data, and this was social data of profound importance. So I synthesized all the answers and I wrote, just before I became C.E.O., here’s what you guys told me and here’s what I think about it, and so here’s our priorities. People were enthusiastic and honest in talking to me, and it also helped me to get to know the top people in the company better. “
Comment: In my work with introverts I have found that they are successful when they apply their preference for analysis and preparation to people issues. CEO Sharer was able to gain trust and candor by listening. His business strategy hinged on getting this honest feedback.
Another quote: “I’m a very coachable person and I’m sincerely open to and I seek feedback, because that’s the only way that you can grow as a C.E.O., which is a very isolating job. And so if you don’t create mechanisms to get authentic feedback, you won’t. “
Can you give feedback to your boss? Do you encourage your team to give it to you? Do tell.