Home > Self-Help > Are You An Introvert?

Are You An Introvert?

The Introverted Leader by Jennifer Kahnweiler, PhD

Way back in high school, as far as I remember, I came across a discussion on the extrovert and the introvert types of people for the first time. The extroverts typically enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic and full of energy. They enjoy being in large social gatherings. On the other hand, the introverts are people who are reserved and less outspoken in large groups . I easily identified with the introvert type.

There were other behaviour classifications. The corporate world would use the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (Wikipedia) which explores on the judging and perceiving functions of people to understand how each will effectively perform a role in a team. This is often times used in team building activities to help people recognize their behaviour and the other team members’ behaviour. In understanding each one, the team uses it to their advantage. Though I could not remember how my results looked like, it is now like this:

ISTJ – “Trustee”. Decisiveness in practical affairs. Guardian of time- honored institutions. Dependable. 11.6% of total population.

Personality Test by SimilarMinds.com

I believe it has changed over time.

More than a year ago, I picked up an interesting book related to leadership and introvert personality: The Introverted Leader by Jennifer Kahnweiler. I found the book very useful because it did not just talk about the abstract principles but practical action points. The book was not about a strict “Leadership” role in a corporate or political setting. Rather, it was something that can be applied in any environment as “leadership” is defined based on how one stands up for his specific role and takes the lead in his specialty regardless of his position or status. Nonetheless, it was more directed to the office corporate set-up.

I wanted to impart some of my learnings in this book:

1.  Kahnweiler stressed key challenges that lead to the introverts ending up in the losing side.  These are stress, perception gaps, career derailers and invisibility.  The characteristics of introverts itself is more often misunderstood as the “weaker” personality.

2.  The author introduced 4Ps to manage this behavior: Prepare, Presence, Push, Practice. This process is indeed practical that in meeting any of the challenges, a preparation is necessary especially for the typical introvert who is not spontaneous.  Presence, although a common ground between the two personalities, is also important because it comes as a reminder to always keep one’s focus and attention on the present, the NOW that is happening. Push is allowing oneself to throw the hat out of the fence so he will be forced to get it outside thereby putting ourselves outside of his comfort zone.  And as there is “preparation”, doing it over and over in different occasions or scenarios helps someone to develop a particular skill at a comfortable level.  The 4Ps was used as the anchor of each key area that was discussed throughout the book which made the entire masterpiece easy to execute.  By keeping these 4Ps in mind, one can surely find a way to be on top of the situation.

3.  In the chapter Managing and Leading, I find it valuable that in order to practice “presence”, one has to learn to listen with attunement and observe facial expressions.  This part of the book not only explores how an introvert should behave but how a leader should manage an introvert.  If you have done one of those “one-on-one” sessions with someone to sort out a very serious problem where we wanted to really uproot everything, this is how one should practice good listening skills. It is listening with your heart not only for what was being said but also how it is being said that one is able to go deep into the person’s soul.

4.  Project management tips was also covered.  As part of the “preparation” phase, one has to build credibility to make a project successful.  If we are used to all the high-tech ways of communicating that appear to be “efficient”, take heed and check: Do you think sending out an email is  enough to make people understand your message?  Some sensitive issues cannot just be communicated by email for example.  Just because many of us introverts are comfortable with email, it does not guarantee effectiveness all the time.  Another aspect is effective communication of both good and bad news. We tend to only keep in touch with our “client” when there is a problem.  We miss giving them the small good news here and there (“low hanging fruit”) that should keep the relationship pleasant.  Any bad news, even if not our fault, tend to fall on us if we do not build a good image of ourselves.

5.  “The Meeting Game” as one chapter was entitled gives me a challenging view of our usual meeting as it becomes like a war game.  For the introvert, with enough preparation, this game becomes exciting.  Readiness on the agenda and involvement caught my attention. Introverts tend speak only when it is necessary or sometimes when compelled to do so. Kahnweiler says that speaking up at the beginning fires up one’s energies to participate in a meeting.   Hence, it is a good tool to start with.

The book is a must for people who think they are “introverts” and have the “leadership” attitude in what they do. It gives you a motivation to explore your introvert side and capitalize on it. To all the introverts, cheers!

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Categories: Self-Help
  1. Ben
    June 5, 2011 at 11:06 am

    How about for the people who are both introvert and extrovert? I mean not all people is subject to stereotype. Does this still apply?

    PS: I believe this is a typo “on how one how one.” :]

    • pinoyleonardo
      June 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm

      Hi Ben! Well the Briggs-Myer Type Indcator actually tells you whether you are more introvert or extrovert- you can click the link on my post to check yours (similarminds.com). No one is really 100% introvert/extrovert.

      Thanks for the proofread 😉

      • Ben
        June 5, 2011 at 8:27 pm

        Your welcome 😀

        May I ask. Have you tried “Purpose Driven Life”?

  2. Rey
    June 6, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    Good, informatie post. I’m glad that you’re able to share part of your personality in your book review. Come to think of it, actually, everyone can benefit from the 4 P’s that the author provided in the book. Public speaking is not only dreaded by introverts, but extroverts as well.

    The “Prepare” step is a valuable communication tool, even if you put 5 minutes into it. I find myself a bit more engaged (“Presence”) when I have prepared for a group meeting with a dozen people or for a one-on-one with my boss.

    I like the “Push” recommendation. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t give enough of this because I think those involved already heard what I’m going to communicate to them. But then again, how would they know if I don’t tell them? Communicating often is the key. Communicate, communicate, communicate. A lot of communication is better than nothing at all.

    And as we know “Practice” makes perfect.

  3. pinoyleonardo
    June 7, 2011 at 8:19 am

    @Ben: I’ve read some of Stephen Covey’s books. They’re good but more theory than practice. I call those “theory”books more for reflective slow reading that we need on a day-to-day basis to keep ours spirits going.

    @K.Rey: Sharing part of one’s personality is like coming out of the shell. Many of us grew up thinking “we were” what people told us what “we were” and never realized what we can be. One doesn’t have to change being introvert to be a leader; he only needs to face up to the challenge!

  4. July 6, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Pinoy – I am so pleased to read your comments about the book and appreciate your comprehensive overview! I really did want to impart the message that it is not about changing who you are but building on the strengths you already have.

    I also agree with Rey that the 4 P’s is applicable to introverts and extroverts. I am pleased that it has resonated with readers and audiences. We can all ramp up our leadership one step at a time. I am also very pleased that the introvert style is slowly becoming more respected and valued in organizations.

    Thank you again for bringing your personal perspective to the book. I look forward to reading more from you and your readers!

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer

  5. July 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    Pinoy – Can you send me your email address and follow me on Twitter so we can direct message each other? Thanks!

    • pinoyleonardo
      July 7, 2011 at 7:50 am

      Your book was really a personal breakthrough for me! I cannot thank you enough. Thank you also for dropping by 🙂 Following you on tweet.

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