The latest research tells us that extroverts are more likely to get promoted, more likely to get opportunities, get paid more, perceived as more credible, and more likely to be seen as a visible leader. If this is the case, does that now mean that as Introverts we need to accept that we might not be given the opportunity, or the visibility or credibility?

I think that what concerns me most is that as Introverts we then justify events or explain our lack of visibility or impact by the fact the we are an Introvert.  In other words, we are using introversion as an excuse.

Most likely if you are reading this article you have introvert tendencies, and you are probably right now (in your head) disagreeing or having a defensive reaction to the above statement.

I make the statement above in the context of me being at the core an introvert.  If you had to ask my colleagues and people who experience me in leadership programs that I facilitate or conferences they would almost all say that I am an Extrovert.  This is in fact not the case. 

Introversion and extroversion is simply a definition of how I am energised, what gives me energy and what draws on my energy.  As an introvert, displaying extrovert behaviours takes an enormous amount of energy.  Similarly, for an extrovert displaying introvert behaviours requires enormous energy.  However, most importantly, regardless of my introversion/extroversion preferences, my competency and skill at communicating, having impact and being credible is 100% in my control. I could be highly extroverted but lack communication and influencing skills, and therefore have little or negative impact.  Alternatively, I could be an extreme introvert but be highly skilled at my communication and influencing and therefore have considerable positive impact on others.

We need to separate introversion and extroversion preferences from communication and influencing skills

During high school and first couple years of university I had a terrible stutter.  I was extremely self-conscious, introverted and shy.  Whenever I was in the spotlight the stutter would kick in, which in itself is embarrassing, and cause me to want to withdraw even more.  I have worked really hard to reduce the stutter, and generally now nobody would ever suspect that I had a significant stutter.  However, even now there are times, particularly in the opening 5mins of a conference talk or leadership program where I find the stutter coming back.

I have actively worked on developing my skills and capability to engage, influence, communicate and have an influence on people around me.  I still at times fail to do this well and I am an ongoing work in progress to improve the impact that I have on others.

I share below just a couple of simple but highly effective ways to have an impact (particularly if you have an introversion tendency):

  1. Be exceptionally curious: Because introverts tend to like time to process information using questions is a way to not only have an impact but gives you time to process and form your opinion and view. 

“Tell me more…” or “So how does/will that work…?”

  1. Prepare, prepare, and prepare more: The most effective strategy, particularly for meetings or important conversations, is to prepare. Prepare all the information you need to know.  Prepare questions you want to ask.  Most importantly, prepare your ‘opinion’ and perspective.  It is critically important that you have an opinion before you go into a meeting.
  1. Summarise: A fantastic strategy that works to enhance visibility but also tap into your strength is to regularly summarise progress through a discussion or meeting. “So, let’s just summarise where we are up to so far…., and the keys issues so far are….”. In particular, practice summarising the key points and actions at the end of a meeting.
  1. Clarify Decision Making, Quality and Time Frames: Whenever you are having a conversation, either one on one or in a group, make it a regular practice to clarify the expectations. See yourself as the ‘facilitator of clarity’.  As the introvert, one of your natural skills is to listen and process, so use this attribute to either clarify what you have heard or seek clarity on the expectations around the decision, quality and time frames.
  1. Observe and comment on process: As introverts we sometimes become to inwardly focused, which is a trap and causes us to become overly sensitive to our emotional experience in the moment e.g. anxiety, and too much in our own head.  One of the most effective ways to get out of this is to practice observing process, which is essentially ‘how people are interacting’. In observing you will then notice how people are communicating and contributing as well as becoming more aware yourself of how you are interacting.  If you notice a particular interaction or lack of interaction, then simply verbalise your observation by saying something along the lines of: “I notice that…”.
  1. Assess Impact: A key aspect of improving impact is an accurate awareness of impact.  As introverts we need to diligently ask ourselves at the end of every meeting or conversation: “did I have sufficient positive impact?”  The more we challenge ourselves on whether we have had a positive impact, the more we will start experimenting with ways to improve impact and assess the effectiveness of the change. 

 

Seek feedback from your colleagues and direct reports on your impact.  There are a multitude of 360-degree feedback tools that will also provide insight on the impact you are having as an individual.  Perhaps the simplest, and sometimes most impactful, way to seek feedback is to ask people to use three adjectives that would use to describe you in the most positive way and the most negative way.

While there is no doubt that we all have our personality preferences, which are often very well embedded into our neural pathways, we can still choose how we need to ‘BE’ in a moment to get the most out of that moment.  If you find yourself using your personality as an excuse or justification for your choices or behaviours, perhaps you need to reflect and reconsider whether or not it is working for you. 

I truly believe that everyone of us can CHOOSE how we need to BE, regardless of our well developed and hard-wired traits. 

Are you having the IMPACT that you need to be having?
How do you want to ‘BE’ to have greater impact? 

If this article has had an impact on you or you think it will be useful for a friend, colleague or partner, then please share this article.

Copyright © TLC Solutions Australia 2019

About the author

Gregory Bayne is one of the Directors of Total Leader and Coach Solutions Australia.  Greg works with senior and executive leaders assisting them to make shifts in the way they work, the way they think and the way they live their lives to become better leaders, colleagues and team members. Greg has a particular focus on assisting leaders create a culture or accountability and high performance. His expertise and knowledge is around building and developing a culture of accountability, leading high performing teams, and getting the most out of people to deliver the highest standards of work. We cultivate sustainable behavioural change in individuals, teams and organisations to drive a performance culture.

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