When I openly discuss Introverted Leadership, it gets a lot of reaction. The one that interests me the most is when people don’t know for sure they are an introvert. All they know is that they face daily challenges that come from their own tendencies.
Are you facing challenges due to your own behavior?
My view on this is that it doesn’t really matter if you are an “official” introvert as measured by the Meyers-Briggs assessment. What matters is that if you are faced with some introverted tendencies (which we all have at times) – do they get in your way of achieving your goals?
I’ve highlighted a few of these tendencies below. If they sound familiar, then consider the solutions that follow.
At a loss for what to say. Introverts tend to listen more than they speak. They also tend to speak only when there is a purpose and they have something meaningful to say. The challenge is recognizing that there are times when you know you should speak up, but you’re not sure what to say.
Solution: Use some of your classic curiosity and ask a question. We all suffer from coming up with the best, fastest comment. Give yourself some time and ask a question. While someone else is formulating an answer, you have time to create a great comment.
Solution: Repeat others’ comments. You’ll notice in conversations that a significant amount of what is being said is simply just regurgitated commentary. Don’t be afraid to repeat others as well as yourself – it’s how points get made.
Work relationships are sluggish or nonexistent. While you may not be opposed to work relationships, you may not deliberately go out of your way to form them. The issue is that when you need relationships the most, you may not have them. You need alliances early in the game to help you with all kinds of things. For example, other people help with your training, offer insights on internal dynamics, and know where the “land mines” are.
Solution: First figure out with whom you might want to affiliate. Perhaps you like them or they have a grasp on things that you admire. Pick people you think have some type of natural affinity. Take time everyday to chat with these people or have coffee with them on a routine basis. Developing relationships doesn’t have to be time consuming or unnatural.
You get droopy. A classic introvert tendency is that your energy level gets spent quickly, especially when it involves others. Once the energy is depleted, it becomes increasingly difficult to speak up, stay engaged or interact with others.
Solution: Plan ahead. If you know this happens to you consistently, plan for it to happen and create strategies to keep your batteries charged. This might mean that you plan some desk time working on a project before and after a meeting. Look at meetings like a marathon runner. Charge your batteries ahead of time and then pace yourself.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an occasional or full-time introvert. If you kick into tendencies that don’t help you accomplish what you need to, you can make some adaptations that will help you be the powerhouse you know you can be.