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The Introvert Leader

There has been a significant amount of research in the recent years exploring the dynamics between introverts and extroverts in the workplace. Firstly, it is to be noted that these are not two fixed points on a graph – people can have various degrees of extroversion and introversion. However, although the divide between these two concepts is not straightforward by any means, there are some general factors and insights that can increase one’s understanding about individual differences when it comes to intro- and extroversion. Instead of labelling the behaviour with extremes, the key is learning how to recognise, respect and value the talents and perspectives of others. In addition to exploring the dynamics within a team, there has also been discussion whether an introvert can be a proficient leader, particularly in an extrovert dominated environment.

The Introvert Leader

It is often an assumption that introversion is related to being shy or being antisocial in some way. However, it is in fact primarily about how one responds to stimulation, including social stimulation, which operates at the level of the nervous system. Therefore, it is not merely a preference as introverts typically dislike noise, interruptions, and big group settings. They tend to prefer quiet solitude, to have time to think before speaking or acting, and to build relationships and trust one-on-one. Introverts generally recharge with reflection, and focus deeply on work, but for extroverts, being around other people in fact gives them energy. So can an introvert be a leader?

A lot of us can recognise within ourselves to some extent whether we are energised by external or internal stimuli. For leadership, it is important to increase one’s own awareness in terms of behavioural responses and find ways to make the demands of one’s job work for them, whether they consider themselves an introvert or extrovert.  Crucially, introvert leaders should acknowledge the importance of being comfortable sharing enough of themselves to make interpersonal connections, the foundation for building trust among subordinates.  By adapting to the environment and building connections one would show others not only that they are not self-absorbed, but importantly, that they have the self-confidence to command respect. Being an introvert in extrovert dominated environment is therefore not about ‘faking it’, but adapting to the world and people around you.

Research in this area has concluded that extroverted leaders — who are likely to be comfortable expressing themselves and voicing their opinions — work well with their subordinates when the members of their team are more passive and dutiful followers looking for guidance. Extroverts bring the vision, assertiveness, energy, and networks necessary to give them direction. However, in a more dynamic environment where everyone is eager to express their ideas, extrovert leaders are more likely to feel threatened and even clash with their subordinates. In contrary, workplaces with confident, self-starting workers, introverted leaders tend to feel more at ease.

Introvert leaders can also excel in leading innovative projects, as they are not hindered by routine and generally possess strong critical thinking abilities. They have an ability to focus and concentrate for long periods of time and tackle an issue until they’ve figured out a solution.

18smhbx1pvip8jpgIntrovert leaders can be very effective when teaming up with people who complement them, helping them translate their ideas and voice them into the organisation. They are likely to listen, and be receptive to good ideas which can further increase the potential of their whole team. Introvert will take in information thoughtfully — and they are mentally capable of holding off from responding immediately. This can be crucial in conflict situations and miscommunication.

So we can conclude that various factors in one’s personality can bring important aspects on board in leadership behaviour and team dynamics. Furthermore, a great leader is self-aware and willing and able to adapt and modify their behaviour as needed to lead others as well as turning diversity into success. It is therefore about finding their own niche in being a leader who is maximising the full potential of themselves and others.

Why Employee Recognition is Important for Business Performance

Employee recognition lets employees know that their hard work is appreciated. It doesn’t have to cost the business anything – it can be done in less than a minute. The results of which can have a lasting impact. By communicating to employees how much their work is valued is an important but often overlooked way to maintain high levels of workforce satisfaction and retention. Recognising the assistances employees make to a company helps solidify relationships, fosters employee engagement and loyalty to the business. This info-graphic we created looks at why it’s always important to recognise the hard work of your employees.

why-employee-recognition-is-important-for-business-performance-infographic

How To Master Your Memory

While a lot of emphasis may be placed on physical exercise in the modern world, improving and challenging your memory is just as important. This infographic provides an overview of some helpful memory techniques as well as offers a list of daily memory exercises.

How To Master Your Memory

Shaping and Developing Personal Resilience – The Process and the Outcome

Resilience: The ability to bounce back from setbacks and to keep going in the face of tough demands and difficult circumstances, including the enduring strength that builds from coping well with challenging or stressful events

As no one can avoid the adversities and challenges that they are inevitable to come across at some point of their life and career, the real skill is the resilience to bounce back.  Applying to both individuals as well as organisations, resilience is not about learning to fail, but learning to bounce back and the process and outcome of it. The key word however is learning; the outcome of resilience can have substantial effect on an individual, whether it’s in terms of a progression in their career, beginning of a new career path, or generally improving one’s life satisfaction.resilience

Crucially, personal resilience is not to be considered as a trait that people either do or do not have. After all, we are born with utter helplessness as new-borns, eventually gaining personal control. Thus, personal resilience is not an unchanged trait, but something of a more complex nature that can be further developed. Even in evolutionary terms, life itself is the most resilient thing that exists and biological diversity ensures human adaptability to the new circumstances and challenges. Adaptability and resilience also manifests in individual differences when facing everyday challenges in terms of individual thinking styles and behavioural coping mechanisms.

Therefore, as evolution may suggest, variety in humans is a crucial factor for resilience to manifest itself and this is where resilience’s complexity comes into show. Personal resilience involves behaviours, thoughts, and actions that can be learned by and developed in anyone – essentially resilience is about increasing one’s awareness and self-control. Once one reaches this awareness, they can consciously take action to regain their position, allowing them to channel energy more adaptively and constructively in the face of changing circumstances and pressures. Personal resilience consists of individual characteristics and situational factors that define the process and outcome of a situation. The main areas that shape personal resilience through the interaction between individual characteristics and situational factors can be narrowed down to:

  • Confidence – Positive attitude, self-belief and optimism

Start focusing on what has gone well and stretch yourself further

  • Purposefulness – Self-control and meaningfulness

Create meaningful goals for yourself

  • Adaptability – Intelligence , mastering of new skills and ability to improvise

Engage in changing yourself in order to deal effectively with change

  • Self-regulation – Mindfulness and self-awareness

You are not your thinking. You are the person observing your thinking. When you feel anger, you’re in control of what you do next. When you are angry, you’ve lost control 

  • Social Support – Empathy and awareness of self and others

Develop your Emotional Intelligence by connecting with others 

  • Bigger Picture – Perspective

Write a brief personal vision statement with your most important values and the key parts of your life. Even if you’re facing a career crisis you will feel better if you can keep your perspective.

 

Resilience is thus built through the process of coping with challenges and results in endurance of strength, it involves self-control and willingness to acknowledge one’s own role in success as well as in defeat. And what matters is how one deals with it. Acknowledging possible biases in one’s thinking style, such as how they would reason or attribute their success or failure, is an important part of the process. Success can feel good and is in most cases a motivational boost, but one is not to define themselves by it, as one wouldn’t define themselves by their mistakes.

Steven Snyder, the author of Leadership and the Art of Struggle, notes that after suffering a setback, it is natural even for leaders to feel the burden of embarrassment and retreat into isolation. However, the leaders Steven interviewed for his research had strong social support systems, and they tapped into them during difficult times. Not only did they get the support and encouragement they needed to keep going, but also their social support system was an important source of new ideas and inspiration.

In conclusion, personal resilience isn’t all about setbacks or successes, it is also about learning the behaviours, attitudes and work patterns that allow one to keep going and growing, even in difficult or uncertain times. Resilience can also bring power, direction and energy to one’s career and life and for them to become more comfortable in an environment where nothing stays the same and the old ways may no longer work. Once they gain resilience, one can create a more successful career path, and at the same time find greater enjoyment with whatever their path may be.

Just because someone is afraid to push themselves towards something challenging and unfamiliar, it doesn’t mean that their strengths cannot in fact be hidden outside of their comfort zone, just waiting to be recognised. Thus, the outcomes from the process of resilience can further strengthen one’s resources and attitudes – ‘positive stress’, challenging goals and having the confidence to step outside of one’s comfort zone area all vital steps in order to experience greater satisfaction of one’s accomplishments.

 

 

Sources:

Jill Flint-Taylor and Alex Davda – Understanding and Developing Personal Resilience (2015)

Steven Snyder – Leadership and the Art of Struggle (2013)

Tips for taking psychometric assessments

What to do when you are going for psychometric assessments

These days, psychometric assessments are being used for a staggering variety of roles, right up to CEO level. If applying for a job, you may be asked to attend an assessment centre with a large number of people, or to attend a one on one session where you take the assessments alone and may be offered a feedback session or a validation interview.

We are often asked by clients how to prepare for psychometric assessments. The first thing to remember is that you cannot learn the information on which you will be tested. They are licensed assessments, strictly limited to qualified practitioners.

 

Before the assessment:

  • If you have any form of disability that may impact upon your ability to do the assessment, let the company know in advance so that provisions can be made. For example, there are different forms of certain assessments that can be given if a candidate is dyslexic.
  • Find out how long the appointment will take and make sure you allow yourself ample time.
  • Remember, this process is a part of your interview, so conduct yourself accordingly; dress smartly, make your appointment promptly and don’t be late. Be friendly and polite towards everyone you meet as these factors will most likely to be taken into consideration, particularly if personality profiling is part of your assessment.
  • Have a good night sleep beforehand – many companies try to avoid testing candidates late in the afternoon, and for good reason, people perform better when they rested and more alert, so try to schedule your appointment in the morning or as early as possible in the afternoon.

 

During the assessment:

  • If you don’t understand the instructions, or the examples, ask for clarification. It might sound obvious, but it is vital you understand both before beginning the assessment.
  • Take a break between tests if possible, if one is not offered, then ask – performance generally begins to deteriorate after 50-60 minutes. Taking a break after 40 minutes can reverse this. Don’t be afraid to ask for a short break – it will improve your performance.
  • If you are doing cognitive assessments online, make sure that you are doing them in a place where you will not be disturbed. Generally speaking, these will be strictly timed and it will not be possible to “pause” the test and return at a later time.
  • Don’t worry if you feel you have performed badly on one of the assessments, it is difficult to gauge how well you have done. Additionally, most of the tests are designed so that only 1-2% of people can actually answer all the questions. Set it aside and move on to the next one.
  • For personality assessments, the key is to answer honestly. Give the first answer that comes to mind and don’t over think it. Do not try to give answers that you think are desirable but untrue. There are social desirability scales built into the assessments and it will show if you do this. More importantly, if you are not going to be suited to the role or organisation, then you will have had a lucky escape.

 

After the assessment:

  • Ask for feedback. Sometimes it will be offered. If it is not, then ask if it is possible to get feedback. In some cases, there will be a report written on your results and sent to the company. Ask if you may have a copy of this when the process is complete. Whether or not you get the job, it will be a useful and insightful thing to have and can perhaps highlight areas you may wish to develop.
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5 Reasons Why What You Know About Your Introversion Can Limit You.

I found this interesting article about misconceptions Introverts can have about themselves and the negative effect these misconceptions can have. The article is below and here is the link

 

Today I think about how being mindful of  my preference for introversion may affect my actions. Like a self-fulfilling prophesy, this knowledge occupies my thoughts and sometimes prevents me from doing what I’d like to, what I should do. So the question is would it be better to be ignorant of who I am?

How I direct my energy. Because I’m an introvert, I should prefer not going to an evening business networking event after a hard day at work. Introverts should take time to recharge their battery, not exert themselves by socializing after a day of being around people.

Instead: I have the energy to attend social or networking events despite believing that my energy should be saved for reading a good book on my Kindle, while munching on Gummy Bears. I must fight the generalization.

How I communicate. Extraverts rule the world when it comes to small talk. Because I’m an introvert, my ability to make small talk consists of 140 characters of carefully chosen words. Entering a room full of strangers, expected to make small talk, should make me anxious and want to run from the room screaming like a lunatic.

Instead: I can make small talk with the best of them, as long as I’m not battling a motor mouth for airtime. I’ve often dominated the conversation in the lunchroom much to the surprise of my colleagues. I must fight the belief.

How I listen. As an introvert, I’m supposed to listen to people…and like it? Accordingly I should actively listen and wait until the person has said his/her 5,000 words. Extraverts, according to common belief, are off the hook when it comes to listening intently–they’re free to talk nonstop because…that’s the way it is.

Instead: I find it hard to listen to people who believe they’re all that. If there were an off button on some of the loquacious Neanderthals I meet, my right index finger would ache. I am totally cool listening to people who believe in equal rights in conversation. I must politely end a one-sided conversation, as well as be cognizant of my over talking.

How I learn best. Introverts are said to learn best through writing and research, rather than by talking to others. This implies that we’d rather receive e-mails than talk with our colleagues’ in their cubicles.

Instead: It is true that I enjoy writing, but I don’t get my kicks by spending a whole day at my computer researching topics like the Sabin Oxley Act and writing a 30-page whitepaper on it. I like talking with my colleagues as long as it’s productive and doesn’t drain my time, so I must extend my self more often.

How about those meetings. Apparently I can’t participate at meetings because I think too much before talking and, thus, lose my chance to express my brilliant thoughts. The same goes for brainstorming. When others are coming up with hundreds of ideas and throwing spaghetti against the wall, I’m supposed to remain quiet until I have an idea that will stick.

Instead: While it’s true that some extraverts suck the air out of a meeting room, I can throw my weight around as good as the next guy. True, I’m not a fan of brainstorming, but sometimes it works if facilitated by the right person. Instead of over thinking, I must speak up more often and express my great thoughts.

I’ll be the first to admit that knowing the characteristics of an introvert sometimes shapes my actions at work, as well as in my daily life. I wonder how I’d act if I was ignorant of who I am. Would I act more like an extravert? Nah.

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Valuing Introverts In A World Built For The More Outgoing – Irish Examiner 28/4/15 – Featuring David Keane

Elizabeth O’Neill interviewed David Keane this month about how Introverts get by in a world made largely made for Extroverts. It was published in the Irish Examiner on the 28th April.

Here is a link to the article as it appeared in the paper, however, some of the last page was cut off so below that is the article in full:

Click HERE to read the article in the Irish Examiner

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The open plan introvert – Elizabeth O’Neill

Recently for this newspaper, I wrote about an eye-opening trip to Cuba where I cycled around the Island and drank many mojitos. Not at the same time, well not always. What I didn’t mention was that much of the time on the bike I spent alone within the group – with some travellers just ahead, or just behind. I could catch up for a quick chat, or I could fall behind and let my mind wander – and oh, how I like to let my mind wander!

Small talk is not a preference of mine. And small talk while concentrating on avoiding potholes is just too much to ask, especially when it’s interrupting the scenery. Of course on the other hand it’s important to share experiences, to cement them in your mind. So for me being alone within a group is often the default position. I like to maintain my autonomy.

While I enjoy meeting new people and socialising, attending parties where the majority of people will be strangers, is hard work. And an open plan office with a sea of colleagues can only be dealt with in parcels, that’s parcels of people and parcels of tasks.

I’m from a family of introverts, and it would be fair to say I was labelled the “shy one” growing up. With maturity I’ve learned to overcome most of the social anxiety, but introversion is hardwired and an imperative. And the two are not mutually exclusive.

It was Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who first divided the world into introverts or extraverts and put us all on a sliding scale somewhere between the extremities of the two. A person who falls slap bang in the middle is an ambivert – did you know you could possibly be an ambivert? By his own definition Jung was introverted. Introversion is a preference for aloneness, where energy comes from within. Very simply, other people are exhausting. Likewise, an extrovert does not necessarily mean an exhibitionist or outgoing personality, it simply means someone who is engerised by social interactions and other people.

Discussing this with a friend, we realised we had similar reactions from people when we chose our own company. Over the years I have been called “aloof”, “a snob” and “stuck up”. I know because I’ve been told a number of times “you seemed like such hard work” once a person gets to know me. My friend had a similar story when she chose to sit with a book for lunchtime company over her work colleagues. She also told me about Susan Cain’s book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

In the US, Quiet has sparked a revolution and Susan Cain is now so busy talking about it that I couldn’t pin her down for an interview. I did read the book and it was very comforting and insightful. We are told is it okay to be alone, it is okay to like the quiet, introverts are more creative, quiet children need to be nurtured and introverts can be leaders and revolutionaries – look at Gandhi, and Rosa Parks! However, the sceptic in me feels that Susan Cain is preaching to the choir, she has written about introverts, for introverts and is telling us we’re all wonderful.

There are many things about being an introvert – a shy introvert – I’ve spent years overcoming, mainly through feeling the discomfort and getting on with the task anyway. It is not easy but habit helps as does aging which dampens down the self-consciousness. I also work in a busy, dynamic environment that is full of extraverts and social engagement, so small talk has improved through habit. My main strategy is to focus, and drown out the noise.

A reassignment in work has recently put my introversion into stark relief. For this reason, I decided to find out where on the scale I lie.

Corporations sometimes use the Briggs-Myers psychometric test for team building and career development. This test was created as a barometer for Carl Jung’s theories on personality types. Introversion and extraversion is only one element of it. David Keane, a psychologist from Davitt Corporate Psychology puts me through my paces on the test and I came out as an introvert. But a moderate one, I scored 17 out of a possible 70. In his experience, David says introverts are in the minority and he sees a 60/40 split between the two. According to Susan Cain, there’s a one in three chance of being introverted, and the world is not skewed in our favour.

David says “the world is pretty much set up for extraverts, so introverts know what it’s like to operate in a world for extraverts, they live in it every day. Schools, offices, colleges, are all set up for the extravert.”

“For the extravert, everything is externalised, they get energised by interacting with people, so if they have a day of talking to people on the phone and a couple of long meetings where they felt like they got a lot done, they’ll go home more energised than when they arrived. Whereas if an introvert has to do that, spend all day in meetings, they’d just be absolutely shattered at the end of the day.”

I explain that three daily meetings, while necessary, leave me completely drained. So much so I won’t then answer the phone for social calls at home. I couldn’t figure out this exhaustion at first, I thought it was the newness of the assignment, but now it’s beginning to fall into place. David says “the novelty factor would have an effect but that’s really the result of being an introvert in an extravert’s world.”

So the question is, how can an introvert, even a moderate one, operate in a world that is set up for extraverts?

David reassures me introverts can happily work in an extraverted world. Introversion, like extraversion is a preference, not an absolute, therefore you can work like an extravert, it just take more effort. He correlates this to writing your signature with you other hand, “it feels unnatural, but it’s completely doable”. The main strategy for an introvert to adopt, is to schedule down time to recharge.

We also discuss the prevalence of open plan offices – the idea is apparently to foster communications. This is counterintuitive for introverts, who will turn further inwards, with no place to hide. David says “it’s up to the managers to find ways to help introverts to work better, such as taking a laptop into a quiet room to concentrate, or have quieter spaces.” Well, one can only dream, as one tends to do. Ultimately David advises that it’s up to the introvert to find ways and space to work best for themselves. So we’re back to self-reliance and being alone.

The pros of being an introvert

* more creative
* can focus for longer periods
* not fazed by spending time alone
* good listeners
* think before they speak

The cons of being an introvert

* easily distracted
* get over stimulated by too many people
* can be perceived as unfriendly
* an aversion to networking