30 Jul “The courage to speak softly”
Have you been told that you’re quiet, low key, reserved, or that you need to speak out (or up) more?
Do you need to spend time alone to recharge your batteries?
Introverts recharge by spending time alone and lose energy when they’re around too many people for too long. (On the other hand – extroverts gain energy from other people – their energy is sapped when they spend too much time alone).
If you’re an introvert you probably don’t make a song and dance about things and don’t feel the need to make a lot of noise.
I’m an introvert – I’m not noisy, but I’m definitely not shy, and if I appear to sit back it’s probably because I’m listening and thinking things through.
And I get stuff done.
Management might not be at the top of the ‘place to be’ list for many introverts – but introverts can be really good Managers and are often natural leaders.
So, what does it mean if you are a Manager and an Introvert?
You’re a good listener – which can be a great asset as a Manager. You prefer listening to talking.
You’re probably not into small talk, chatting or gossip – this could appear a bit stand-offish – so make a conscious effort at some point every day to look up from what you’re doing, have a walk around the office, and have a chat.
You live in your head a lot and you can concentrate for long periods. But you sometimes zone out so much that you might respond blankly when someone interrupts you.
It can take you a few seconds to get out of your head and back into the world.
Be mindful how your concentration can look to others. Susan Cain author of Quiet calls it thinking about how to “arrange your face” – referring to the frowning and various facial expressions of the deep thinking introvert.
You prefer to think things through and like to take your time to make decisions.
You prefer one to one problem solving rather than throwing it open to everyone.
But make sure others don’t feel excluded from the decision making process. Colleagues won’t know what you’re thinking about or what stage of the thinking process you’re at – so be sure to involve and update others on where you’ve got to in your thinking. – even it it’s just to say “I’ll get back to you”
You’re not particularly interested in self-promotion.
But don’t forget that your team might be – and they might like your help with that – so remember to recognise and celebrate what goes well.
You prefer to meet colleagues one to one or in small groups. You find meeting with large groups of people exhausting.
Managing a team could be exhausting if you don’t get enough time to yourself to recharge your batteries. Think about how you manage your diary with high and low energy activities so you’re not wrung out at the end of the day.
If you’re working in open plan offices a lot then you’ll need some time to yourself during the day – go off for a walk on your own at lunchtime or find a place to escape too.
There will be times when you need to step outside of your comfort zone and jostle a bit for attention.
And if you want career progression for yourself then make sure not to get overlooked. Find ways to get noticed. Build some networks, get yourself out there.
On your own terms of course.
But above all “have the courage to speak softly” (Susan Cain again)
I’ve generalised from my own experience as an introvert and as a manager – there are different types of introverts – you can find out more about personality types here