When I sat down with professional counselor and coach Chelsey Brooke, I was impressed at her eloquence and expertise. She shared insights into the introverted mindsets and motivations that I believe can be the foundation for so many of us to become better, more mindful leaders.
As Maya Angelou stated, “When you know better, you do better,” much of what Chelsey shared can be a call to action for leaders to really get to know their team members so that they can help dramatically increase their ability to cultivate mutually meaningful work engagements. In a business world where extraverts can often seize the spotlight – helping introverts learn to come from a place of power, work with their strengths, and find an authentic path they can be passionate about is exactly why I wanted to have her on the show.
Misunderstanding and misinterpretation can be two big obstacles for introverts. From an extravert’s point of view, not speaking up, sitting in silence, or not being gregarious in a meeting or office situation can be mislabeled as a poor team player or lackluster contributor. When in fact, more often than not, the exact opposite is true. Introverts tend to be extremely organized and take the time to process information with incredible thoroughness. Those are positives, not negatives.Introverts don’t need to “suck it up”, “speak up more”, or “get thicker-skinned”. Like everyone else, they should be recognized for their skills, contribution, and strengths. #LeaderWithUnderstanding Click To Tweet
As leaders, know that there are three empowering ways we can help introverts let go of those labels (internally and externally), feel more confident in the workplace, and use their strengths to best serve the team as a whole. Chelsey calls them the three P’s:
- Prepare: As deep-thinkers and planners, introverts tend to be uncomfortable with spontaneity. That’s where preparation can be a powerful ally – especially for important meetings and projects. Tip: Make room in your timelines for the introvert’s high level of preparedness and you’ll most likely be rewarded with results that are well defined by critical thinking and thorough analysis.
- Participate: What’s important to remember is how critical non-verbal communication is in the workplace. Introverts tend to participate most through eye-contact, attention, nods, smiles, and observation. Leaders who are more aware of the personality types of their employees recognize and reward this contribution as much so as the more verbal extravert’s. Tip: Be aware that introverts often feel awkward about interrupting. Ask one-on-one ahead of a meeting if there is something they’d like to share up front, or something you can acknowledge for them. That kind of consideration will glean you the feedback you need at a comfort level that doesn’t feel awkward or intimidating.
- Plan: For most introverts, constant engagement with other people is draining and distracting. Tip: Allow them to schedule energy-boosting breaks where they can recoup and recover. Another strategy is to suggest they have a posted schedule of their availability on their door or cubicle. That helps minimize work stress and helps team members stay on task for projects without distractions that can derail productivity. (Side note: I personally find this super-helpful regardless of personality type!)
One of the things I really admire about Chelsey and a top reason I invited her to be a guest was her work and advocacy for introverted women. Her systems and solutions empower introverted women to not only excel in the workplace, but to truly create a life and career that is founded in their passion, fuels their confidence, and become their own best advocates.Leaders who take the time to really get what makes their team tick will go further, faster, and with more momentum than those who do not. #LeadershipLessons Click To Tweet
Ultimately, as leaders, regardless of industry – our job is to be an excellent steward of the people under our care and supervision. The more aware we are of not just their motivators, but their challenges as well, the more cohesive and effective team we can both build and sustain.
Step one is to get rid of those pre-conceived notions, labels, and language. Some introverts go through life feeling like something is wrong with them, which is only exacerbated by what can feel like an endless barrage of, “you should speak up more”, “get out of your shell”, “you’re too quiet” advice from (hopefully) well-meaning extraverts around them. Create a culture and environment in your organization that encourages empathy and advocacy over judgement and stereotypes. That kind of culture shift comes from the top. Lead by example.
Step two is to encourage education. Perhaps surprisingly, many people have never even taken an assessment. They don’t label themselves introvert or extravert. They just know what works for them – and what REALLY DOESN’T work for them. Encourage open discussion with your team members to share that kind of information with you and with fellow team members. Take some time, or even provide some training, so that people can ascertain their personal best ways to contribute successfully to the team so there’s a win-win for everyone.
Step three is to help people recognize their strengths. Truly, some of the traits that introverts tend to judge themselves the most about are really strengths in disguise. Scientifically, introverts don’t make those snap decisions or reactions because they are hard-wired to use longer and more complex pathways in the brain to process information. Through encouragement and skilled communication, you can show them how much their organization, thoughtfulness, and attention are highly beneficial to your organization’s success and applaud them for those strengths.
Often, the traits most associated with leadership are extraverted in nature: gift of gab, super-connector, direct, assertive, big and bold personalities. Think about what introverts bring to the table however: kindness, quiet, understanding, and empathetic. In the world we live in, don’t we really need BOTH?
The answer is, of course we do. When leaders take the time to more fully understand who is on their team and what makes them tick, they can help amplify the strengths of the individuals, help them to be better heard, and cultivate the kind of team dynamics which allows everyone to thrive. A standout lesson from our conversation was really a simple one… ASK. Ask your team members (rather than assume) what conditions allow them to feel most productive. Ask them how they feel most comfortable communicating. Ask them about their passions so that you can help fuel them. Astonishing growth and collaboration can happen when you lead from a place of listening to your people.Set aside belief systems that put negative habits and self-talk on loop. They are a disservice to you and those around you. #RetrainYourBrain Click To Tweet
Both leaders and individuals can benefit greatly from actively learning more about what makes us say what we say and do what we do. Did you know that the brain is wired to keep us safe, keep to the status quo, and conserve energy? That’s why growth is so uncomfortable for some! That’s why setting and working towards new goals can feel painful. That’s why we often quit before we even get started. That knowledge and perspective is a powerful tool in breaking through barriers and achieving great things.
The top three take-aways for leaders from our time together:
- Help people find a career or a path they can be passionate about. Passion fuels energy, builds confidence, inspires action, and elevates lives personally and professionally.
- Help team members develop self-belief systems that serve them. The time to shatter those limited belief systems, habits, and “shoulda, coulda, wouldas” is now. Help people see that what once might have been considered weaknesses can truly be turned into strengths. Thinking differently, processing information more carefully, measuring your words – these are attributes, not faults.
- Help others develop a success mindset. Remind people that their self-talk, the skills they build upon, and the habits they make and break – these are all part of their personal success puzzle and also part of how they effectively fit into your team.
I am so grateful to Chelsey for sharing her insights about the introvert mind, how we can empower them, and lead them with more effectiveness and compassion. I would encourage everyone to learn more about this powerful topic by taking advantage of Chelsey’s free training program which includes:
1. How to find a career in your passion.
2. How to develop self-belief in who you are.
3. How to create a successful and resilient mindset.
You can get all three at www.ThePathfinderforyou.com/free.
All labels aside, gaining a deeper understanding of ourselves and the people we work with, lead, and even live with is an incredible win-win. What do you think? Let’s have that conversation!