Network - Summer 2011 - (Page 25)

O Feature Why Can Make the Introverts Best Leaders Learning by listening, not talking, is a trait that introverts consistently demonstrate. conducting organizational surveys and holding town hall meetings, I schedule walk around time, just stopping by offices.... I would just say, ‘Hey, what is keeping you up nights? What are you working on? What’s most exciting to you right now? Where do you see we can improve?’” Dr. Dunsire maintains that by pursuing this kind of in-depth questioning--something that introverted leaders do exceptionally well–executives can learn what’s actually happening in the far reaches of their organizations and engage and retain their top talent. 3. They exude calm. Introverted leaders are low-key. In times of crisis, they project a reassuring, calm confidence--think President Obama--and they speak softly and slowly regardless of the heat of the conversation or circumstances. Whenever they get ready for a meeting, a speech or a special event, their secret to success can be summed up in one word: preparation. They often plan and write out their meeting questions well in advance, and for important talks and speeches, they rehearse NETWORK O Summer 2011 O 25 By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler ost people don’t know that I’m an introvert.” I hear this confession from surprisingly many successful executives. Quite a few, in fact, talk at length with me about their introversion, speaking candidly and often cathartically about their experiences. Most also admit that at some point in their leadership journey they’ve had to work to overcome being disregarded or misunderstood because of their quiet temperament. How do these introverted leaders do it? How do they thrive in the extroverted business world? They seek to understand--and play to-their strengths. It has been reported that a full 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates, the über-investors Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab, Avon’s chief executive, Andrea Jung, and the late publishing giant Katharine Graham. Odds are President Barack Obama is an innie as well. What does that mean? That introverts, not just extroverts, have the right stuff to lead organizations in a go-go, extroverted business culture. Here are five key characteristics that help introverted leaders build on their quiet strength and succeed. 1. They think first, talk later. Introverted leaders think before they speak. Even in casual conversations, “M they consider others’ comments carefully, and they stop and reflect before responding. One executive tells me that he sits back and listens to his leadership team’s ideas and proposals, often using silence to allow even more thoughts to bubble up. Learning by listening, not talking, is a trait that introverts consistently demonstrate. They also use their calm, quiet demeanours to be heard amid all the organizational noise and chatter. (One thoughtful, reasoned comment in a meeting can move a group forward by leaps and bounds.) In fact, the most powerful person in the room is often the quietest. Additionally, an introvert’s tendency to be more measured with words is a major asset in the current economy, when no leader can afford to make costly gaffes. 2. They focus on depth. Introverted leaders seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep, delving into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. They are drawn to meaningful conversations, not superficial chitchat, and they know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers. In a recent interview with The New York Times, Deborah Dunsire, M.D., president and chief executive of Millennium, a Cambridge, Massachusetts biopharmaceutical company, said, “In addition to

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Network - Summer 2011

Network - Summer 2011
HRIA Chair’s Message
Honouring Alberta’s Best
HRIA Conference Wrap-Up
Good Dismissals and Investigations
The Future of HR in Canada
How to Pick a Good Fight
Why Introverts Can Make the Best Leaders
Social Media in 2011: Seven Choices You Need to Make
Employee Tweets, Posts and Company Social Media
Ask Field Law
Index of Advertisers

Network - Summer 2011