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The Development Exponent: A Leadership Perspective

Bruce Holoubek

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Leading Insights on Introverts for Leaders with Chelsey Brooke

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. 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. 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.

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