The Quiet Power of The Introverted Leader: An Episode for Introverts and Extroverts Alike
About This Episode
Extroversion is often the dominant psychological characterization associated with being a successful leader in the workplace. However, the definition of leadership can be taken to an entirely new level by revealing the valuable traits and strengths of introverted leaders, focusing on equitable talent in the workplace.
We explore this topic deeper in this episode of The Edge with Jennifer Kahnweiler, a bestselling author and one of the top global leadership speakers on introverts in the workplace. Together, Jennifer and host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek chat about the power of the introverted leader, and how organizations can create an introvert-friendly culture that embraces their leadership strengths.
Interested in learning more?
- Check out Jennifer’s website
- Take the Introvert-Friendly Workplaces Quiz
- Read Jennifer’s Books:
Michelle BB 00:00:07 The views expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft.
Michelle BB 00:00:14 Welcome to the edge, the Skillsoft podcast, where you'll find stories about how transformative learning can help people and their organizations grow together. I am your host, Michelle Bebe. My pronouns are she and her. And I am pleased to report that we are now in season three, having launched the edge as we all went into lockdown in the spring of 2020. Now, during that time, we have experienced changes, big and small, but one thing has stayed the same. That's our purpose at Skillsoft. We propel organizations and people to grow together through transformative learning experiences and in doing so, we unleash human potential and accelerate careers. Opportunities for growth must be available to us all. And that's why diversity equity and inclusion DEI is such an important focus for us. And in today's episode, we're gonna look at one aspect that is often overlooked. It's about each individual's hardwired temperament.
Michelle BB 00:01:19 We're gonna discuss how organizations and people can encourage support and nurture those who are introverted. Approximately half the population identifies as introverts I myself do yet. Traditional business culture tells us that we have to change if we wanna contribute, if we wanna lead. And if we wanna compete, we often associate loudness with confidence and quietness with a lack thereof. In fact, according to Forbes, the study from the university of Toronto found that extroverts have an edge. When it comes to success at work, they are perceived to have greater motivation, to achieve positive goals, to better enjoy the company of others and to suffer from less stress, but is perception. Reality. What if instead we recognized and leveraged the innate skills and style of people who are naturally introverts. My guest today is the world's premier expert on introverted leadership. And if you think those two words, aren't the most natural combination.
Michelle BB 00:02:18 Trust me, by the time we wrap up our conversation with Jennifer, you are gonna have a better understanding of what it is and why it can be so valuable for an organization. Jennifer con Weiler is a bestselling author and one of the top global speakers on introverted leadership in the workplace, her pioneering books, the introverted leader, quiet influence the genius of opposites and creating introvert friendly workplaces have been translated into 18 languages. She helps organizations harness the power of introverts by partnering with leading organizations like Amazon and Merck, Kimberly Clark, NASA Bosch, and the us center for disease control. Jennifer has delivered her signature presentations all across the globe from Singapore to Spain. I also wanna add that she has courses, videos and webinars on Skillsoft percipient. So if you are intrigued by what you hear today, head on over to Percipio to learn more. And with that, I wanna thank Jennifer so much for joining me on the edge. Welcome Jennifer.
Jennifer 00:03:23 I am so happy to be here, Michelle. Thank you.
Michelle BB 00:03:26 I want to start this conversation by setting the stage and you and I have had a little bit of a discussion, but I'm really excited about this topic. As I mentioned in the intro, I, myself am an introvert. I don't think people know that about me. I don't think they would assume that about me. So I'm really excited to get into this discussion and you've dedicated more than a decade to studying, writing and speaking about introverted leaders while also supporting their growth and development. So from our conversations, I, I wanna make an assumption that you, yourself, aren't an introverted leader, but, but I don't know that to be true. And if so, why, why the fascination and passion for the subject?
Jennifer 00:04:08 And now I call myself an advocate really? And Michelle, what, what a wonderful question. Um, I, you know, it starts in my belief from our personal lives on our home and I've been married to an introvert. I didn't know that when I first married my husband bill, I was just as a young bride. Uh, wondering what if I had made the wrong decision? Actually, no, because I would, we would come back to from parties and, um, you know, and he was very quiet and we go to one side of the place and I was on the other and I was like, what's going on here? And then I was fortunate to be introduced early in my career as a coach and as a, um, HR and leadership development person. I was, I learned about the Myers Briggs, which now is, you know, everybody knows about, but back then it was kind of not, not very well known, but, and I had my aha experience and I learned that I was, uh, an extrovert that I needed to talk out my ideas and my husband really needed to recharge after being with people.
Jennifer 00:05:02 And, uh, it was very, very enlightening for our relationship. And I, you know, back then he was still listening to me. I came home and told him about that <laugh> and we’ve been married. We’re gonna be celebrating 50 years next year. So I guess it, you know, it was a good thing. Um, and it helped our relationship, but I started to move into, uh, the workplace and I found that, um, this lens that I had was very useful in, in supporting my clients. And, uh, they were oftentimes people I would notice were overlooked and ignored and misunderstood because they were simply quiet. And, uh, that really peaked my, I guess, advocacy, you could call it now we call it that, but it was my interest in learning more. Um, and, um, I needed to adjust my own style. I remember one time, um, teaching a class and, and there wasn’t much response with a bunch of engineers and I kept revving it up and, and making, you know, talking more and more as an extrovert.
Jennifer 00:05:57 Um, and, and it was just having the opposite effects. So I said, I need to learn something. So I started to research it and, um, as I was working in organizations and I couldn't find a lot of resources, and this was more than 10 years ago, probably 15, 20 years ago. And, uh, I decided to start researching it and EV eventually put together my first book, which was called the introverted leader, because I could see that there were so many, uh, leaders in all kinds of industries that, um, were very successful and were more introverted. So that was kind of an extroverted, long answer. <laugh>
Michelle BB 00:06:29 No, but it's great. And you know, I, I, I identify with your husband. I mean, for me, it, you know, when I go out and I speak, or when I do a podcast like this, like I have to go recharge. And so I, I think it's probably important for our listeners out there. Maybe we need to fine tune or address the definitions of introversion and extraversion, because I think people assume that introversion equates to being shy, but we know that's not, well, I know that's not true. No, that's not what it's really about, but, but let's, so let's talk about it. Let's define introversion and extroversion.
Jennifer 00:07:07 Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you brought up that shyness Michelle, because there is a lot of misunderstanding. We have extroverts who are, who can be shy too, believe it or not. Um, and that's really more about social anxiety, psychological anxiety that can be really get in the way of you functioning and many children by the way, are labeled as shy when they're basically introverted. And in it kind of just is a snowball effect. Um, and it affects their self-esteem and self-confidence, but that's, that's another area it's not the same. I introversion is how you're wired. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and, you know, we temperament is on a spectrum and we're learning more and more about that in many areas of diversity, right. And inclusion. And, um, and, and what it's about is where we get our energy and introverts tend to get their energy, um, from, within, from them in their heads.
Jennifer 00:07:51 Um, and they, and extroverts get it from the outside world, from the stimulation of being with other people. That's not to say introverts don't thrive on being with people. It's just, what we've learned is around St how much, you know, you think about it as like a battery, you know, battery drains faster for an introvert typically than it does for an extrovert. You can be out there, like you were saying, presenting, you can be networking, or we might call schmoozing, you know, and being, people would never guess that you're, you're more introverted, but you must, um, have that downtime. And it usually comes quicker than for an extrovert they're ready to go on to the next event, you know, <laugh> whereas the introvert isn't. So I think it's really, we're learning another thing I'll, I'll add to this. There's two other quick points on this.
Jennifer 00:08:33 Um, you know, many people, when I bring up the idea of having different children, you know, you can see that it, it actually, and Carl Young was the one who came up with the term, um, in the early 19th century, he, he talked about this and it's, it's really how we are born, how we come into the world. And ultimately we don't change that drastically, you know, over time. Um, so if you have kids and you notice that they're even from the same family, they could be, have very different temperaments. People oftentimes come up to me after my speeches and they won't be talking about the Le the brilliant leadership con concepts I came up with, but they wanna understand their, their teenage son who's, who's quite quiet. And, uh, and they're very extrovert, you know? So it's, it's very interesting like that
Michelle BB 00:09:13 You've got a quiz on your website, which I think is really interesting because some people may not even recognize yes. That they're, that they're introverted versus extrovert. They, they may have this ideal of what, or this idea of what they are supposed to be. And yet they might go take this quiz and find out something different. Yes.
Jennifer 00:09:32 Different. Yep, exactly. Exactly. And I think the quiz, like I mentioned, a spectrum, most of us actually, Michelle, fall into the, uh, the, if we think about a bell curve, much more towards the middle. Okay. So that you have outliers, you have extroverts who are like one of my friends, she calls herself a flaming extrovert. And then I have another colleague on the other side, um, of, of introversion who calls herself a hermit. Um, mm-hmm, you know, and so I think there are those outliers, but most of us kind of, we, I, I believe we tend to prep prefer one side or the other, and that's what I've seen from all of my research. Um, but there are some people that, that identify also with the term ambivert. I don't know if you've heard that. No. Um, there's some research going on, more research going on about that now. And that's when you kind of Ambi extras, you go back and forth, but in all reality, in my opinion, I think we all do that, you know, to some extent with your example as well. And I think the pandemic was a good opportunity to see how all of us, when we were in lockdown, you know, could adjust and, and in many cases, in a positive way, um, for extroverts, they were able to go on, on their introvert side as one example,
Michelle BB 00:10:42 I get that, um, completely. And I think, you know, as I said before, I think people are often surprised to hear me describe myself as an introvert, but your analogy, this idea of, or, or metaphor of a battery, right. That's what happens. My battery gets drained. And when I do so much public speaking, cuz that's part of my job, whether, whether I am, uh, speaking internally or whether I am out at a conference that battery drains really fast. So what I, I would love to understand, and maybe this is even, uh, more for me personally, although everybody else out there, you, you can, I'm sure this will be beneficial too, but I'm just so fascinated. The work that you do, um, you're targeting aspiring introverted leaders or mm-hmm <affirmative> are you also working with the organizations that employ them to help them better understand how to take advantage of how to work with and acknowledge these people who are likely tremendous leaders, but yet might have a different temperament, might need, uh, a different style of work in order to bring them their best selves to the
Jennifer 00:11:52 Office. I, yeah. Interesting. When I started, I have the advantage Michelle of having been, uh, there are some advantages to be older <laugh> of having been around this space since the beginning. I'm one of the people I would say, I don't want, I'm not bragging. I I'm just saying I was one of the early, um, champions for introverts. Um, and I came out, came out of the gate, really propelled in my work by the, what I was seeing, as I mentioned earlier about, you know, people being overlooked and even, uh, promotions that should have happened or, you know, even in our, um, I did a lot of training back then and was connected with Skillsoft and part of that too. And when I would do live classes, for instance, I would see the introverts just shut down because the way the class was designed was for extroverts.
Jennifer 00:12:41 You know, I mean, there were so many levels in which I came across the need and um, I wrote the first book and it was, you know, I was very pleased. It, it did hit a chord. I got a lot of pushback from people. They say, how could you be a, how could somebody be a leader and be an introvert that's impossible. Whereas now, you know, fast forward to today, 20, 22. And I can't even keep up with all the Google alerts that I get. When I put in the word introvert, there are literally, um, hundreds and hundreds of coaches that specialize in this. So back to your question started with leaders and then mm-hmm, <affirmative> my readers and my audiences tell me what they want next. You know, I listen to them and many authors will tell you that who are a nonfiction? You're like, well, okay, what's the next opportunity?
Jennifer 00:13:24 So that it was an evolution. So then, um, that book came out. Another addition came out. It was, it it's still my best selling book, the introverted leader, um, because it's, it's really focused on how you use your quiet strengths and don't change who you are. Um, but then there was a whole group of people that don't consider themselves or identify with the term leader. Um, even though we say right in a lot of our courses, you know, everybody's leader, they don't feel that, but they are struck with the challenge of, you know, getting their ideas heard, um, getting a project sold sales, like, you know, a lot of us have to do a mini levels. Um, and, uh, they were very frustrated that they were very good technically and very confident, but they didn't know how to influence. So the next book was around quiet influence or my next work was how do you influence across an organization or to your various entities?
Jennifer 00:14:14 Like your suppliers, your customers, et cetera. And, uh, what I looked at in that work and, and what still is, is very people are interested in is again, how do you take those quiet strengths and make a difference? How do you challenge the status quo? How do you provoke new ideas and don't change into an extrovert to do it? You know, I worked with one company <laugh> last year, but when I was doing other research on companies and they called it louder ship, Michelle, that was the term they said in their company. It's a big pharma company say when people talk about influence and leadership, they talk, we laugh about it, but it's, there's really, it's not so funny, they call it louder ship. So that was, that was one thing.
Michelle BB 00:14:53 So that's really interesting, Jennifer and I, I wanna sort of touch on this one a bit because, you know, I, I, I guess in thinking about that the business world would reward those who are extroverted fastest, loudest boldest people. Yeah. You know, I think, you know, another sort of, um, pejorative this movers in shakers concept, but a lot of your work has been about revealing the valuable traits of introverted people and how they can be leveraged those traits. But in just listening to you, I have to imagine that there are challenges that we have to overcome. We've gotta acknowledge the strengths of the introverts.
Jennifer 00:15:30 Exactly. And, and, uh, I think the challenge is that many are not aware of if they're not introvert, of course, introverts know this, you know, there are many, but one of them is, uh, people exhaustion that we've referred to throughout this discussion. And if you're not aware that that can be a real challenge, both personally for you as an introvert, right? Because you keep pushing and thinking, you should have this extrovert idea and you should always, you should be attending that networking reception. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> at the conference when you really need to go back to your room and recharge. So there's a lot of pressure individually, but also we expect people to be more extroverted so that people exhaustion came out as number one, in one survey I did recently, no, it was a few years ago. 90% of people said they suffered, who were introverted from people, exhaustion, negative impressions is another thing you get, you know, so a lot of introverts don't show much on their face.
Jennifer 00:16:21 That was my challenge with husband, bill. It's like, what are you thinking? Because they're in their heads. And so there's a lot of disconnects around, you know, from extroverts who, who really thrive on that facial ex animation. Right. And if they're not getting that, they get very frustrated and make judgements. I just talked to a salesperson yesterday who said that to me, he said, I, I just, I, I go right there to make, say that person's a, you know, with a woman in particular, she's just snobby. She's stuck up. No, she's introverted. She's <laugh>, you know, so there's a lot there. And, uh, and, and then one other key challenge is the invisibility, because, because introverts are talked over so much, um, you know, the extroverts, I'm not, I don't wanna say they're bad, they're just enthusiastic. And I can relate to this. And they just start, if you watch two extroverts together, right.
Jennifer 00:17:10 They're like interrupting each other. They don't take that personally. They're just like, well, you know, cuz they're stimulated. But when you have an extrovert in that mix, their ideas are not being heard. And uh, we've seen this on zoom calls where people say, well, does anyone have any ideas? And you know, the introverts are maybe writing in the chat or they're thinking about it. They wanna process it cuz they, they have deep thought. And that's one of the strengths that I wanted to mention to you. Um, but the, they get talked over. So on the larger scale and I, and I was saying, my work has moved more into systemic change. How can we get organizations to adapt? But think about like if we have 40 to 60% of the population falling on either side of the scale, uh, you know, you're missing out on tremendous amount of innovation, ideas input, if you know, the introverts aren't being heard from.
Jennifer 00:18:04 So those are, you know, those are some of the key challenges. Now, if you, you know, just to address what some of the strengths are and there are multiple strengths, but I would say, and I you'd love to hear what you say about this, but preparation is one of the ACEs in the hole for introverts. Uh, they, uh, they, they do deep preparation and that's why they look so in the moment, cuz you know, I did a, I put together a model based on what introverts told me they did to be successful. And one of those was, was preparation. One of the key, the key first key step was to prepare. Um, some of the other strengths is they are humble. You know, they have humility, they're calm, engaged listening. My colleague, ed FHE, who wrote a book called redefining masculinity. He and I have been working on a collaborative project, um, with men.
Jennifer 00:18:56 And one of the things that's been bubbling up from our interviews with quiet men in particular, cuz we're looking at the intersectionality of gender and introversion, um, is that they listen, they have tremendous engaged listening strength. And um, in this day and age, how important is that to hear what the challenges are of employees, of your team members. Um, and uh, it's made a big difference in terms of how effective they are. Um, whereas you know, leaders who are, who are not introverted, don't tend to take to stop. They get anxious. If they're silence, uh, they don't wanna spend the time necessarily one on one going deeper. So it's a real strength, uh, preparation, focus, conversations, listening, uh, so many strengths it's, it's tr it's amazing.
Michelle BB 00:19:43 So I feel in some ways, like you're speaking about me, like I hear so much of myself. I mean, I, you know, it's interesting cause I did <laugh> well, I did ACI course on, um, public speaking because it's something that I do a lot. And the thing, the, the, the, the one thing that I highlight over and over again is the importance of preparation. And, and I'm not kidding you. It is something I spend a lot of time before I go stand up in front of anyone. I have spent admittedly hours preparing for that. Uh <affirmative> it gives me a sense of calm and I actually perform better. So I, I hear you on that. I will say this though. I personally, as a leader have had to work harder because people do interrupt and it is something I, I, I can't tolerate. And so I've had to work harder to speak up. Mm-hmm <affirmative> to ask someone not to interrupt to let me finish my thought, cause I can see the hands raising and I can see the mouths opening. And it's something where I've had to, I've had to reconcile this sort of thing about me, which, which doesn't wanna address it with the fact that I'm a leader and I have to, it is a responsibility I have to say, Hey, you know what, let me finish my thought and then I'll let you speak. So it's really interesting to hear you say this.
Jennifer 00:21:11 Yes, I'm, I'm loving your, your personal example cuz you really are, um, demonstrating an introverted leadership now seriously and owning it. And that's an important piece of the whole pie and one thing. And I think again, gender woman, I don't know what the makeup of your, your team is, but, um, but I think one thing that I've seen to successful is when you have another person in that room or in, you know, who, who then speaks up for the person who can't, you know, who, who is being interrupted, you know, and ground rules also like I, when I did the research for the last, uh, work on organizations, which was right before the pandemic hit, I was out in Silicon valley and they kept, I was interviewing different clients in contexts. I had been referred to, um, about how they were setting up the environment, right.
Jennifer 00:21:57 To, um, to support the culture, to support introverts. So when I was out in Silicon valley, right before the pandemic, I was interviewing a number of, uh, progressive, uh, leaders there who ha were aware of this topic. And um, what, one of the things, um, that they did, um, was they kept talking about a term called meeting hygiene. I thought meeting hygiene. And when I probed it a little more, it was really basically meetings 1 0 1, you know, that we respect each other. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, we have an agenda which introverts value because many people don't now they just throw a meeting together and don't have a purpose, you know, and they really think through the meeting dynamics and that makes such an incredible difference, you know, and, and introverts really appreciate that. So those are typical best company practices that make a difference for all temperaments.
Michelle BB 00:22:55 I, I love that. And I know that, um, from some of the discussions we've had, there's a lot that an organization can do to encourage this kind of participation, whether it's setting up an employee resource group, whether it's what you discussed. Right. In terms of, of, of this idea of meeting 1 0 1 meeting hygiene, what are some other things like, what are some of those things that organizations best practices that they can do to ensure that they are not just getting the most out of sort of the introverted population, but, but, but increasing the number of introverted leaders within those organizations?
Jennifer 00:23:33 Oh, I, yeah. I love that question because, um, that was the one goal I had in doing the research was like, let me look for these best practices. Right. Honestly, it wasn't that easy to find. Um, but I think it's changing even as we speak now. So a couple of things, you know, it starts, we always know how important it is to look at our talent acquisition. And, uh, when I, when I delved into that topic, I found like the, the companies that were aware of diversity inclusion and equity on many levels and they included intro introversion extroversion in that very thankfully mm-hmm <affirmative> um, they, they went beyond just like, oh, is this a person I, you know, can have a beer with <laugh>, you know, maybe the job didn't really matter about that. Cuz I heard example after example and we have probably, you've probably heard the same thing or somebody was passed over then the, then they had an opportunity to be in that position and they just shined, you know, they just blossomed and they then became a, you know, a top leader of the organization, but people said, oh they, their personality is, you know, it doesn't fit in.
Jennifer 00:24:34 I, I think we have to go beyond that. We have to, you know, really look at those jobs. So I think that's important. And of course the whole interviewing process, um, I, I write about that in creating, I friendly workplaces about steps you can take to, you know, take another look at how you are interviewing people. One company, I was talking with a group there, uh, of, of hiring managers and they realized that it was, um, they ha they asked people to do a presentation and that they were cramming at all these requirements into one day when the per, when the person came out the candidate. And then they said, you know, what about if we just let them have a night to recoup? And then they came in in the morning and did their program, did their pitch. And they said, it made such a huge difference, you know, and that's an introvert friendly.
Jennifer 00:25:19 That's not like, yeah. You know, craming it in. So I think it's important to, you know, have people in organization who are aware of this, like you who can stop and say, how are we serving, you know, both our temperaments. And, and even in the moment I was in one retreat, uh, when I was thinking about this topic and I remember a woman just said stop, like she was very brave. And she said, you know, you're throwing all these questions at us. You're not giving us a chance to think we need time. Lets can we just write it down? You know? And you could see just all the introverts in the room, just take a breath.
Michelle BB 00:25:51 Ugh. Yes. I feel that sort of natural inclination to just, oh thank you. Let me just take it all in for a moment process and then we can have a conversation.
Jennifer 00:26:04 Right, right. And I think, um, I think the extroverts have some learning to do there. A lot of extroverts have a very hard time with silence. Very hard time. They cannot stand silent. A lot of 'em then there are ones who I've been so impressed with who I've, who I'm learning from. It's just, they say in their minds or they have a post-it note on their computer, like count 1, 2, 3. I learned to put my phone on mute Michelle, when I asked a question so that I wouldn't jump in there, you know, and that made a difference. Sometimes people would say, are you there, Jennifer? There <laugh> but it made not say anything <laugh>, you know, so there are tools that we can use and it takes learning and discipline. But what you find is when you do that, if you're somebody that is uncomfortable with the pause, which many people are.
Jennifer 00:26:55 Hmm. Um, you see the results of that. You see how the room fills up with new ideas. You know, you see how that one person who wasn't saying anything, crystallizes all of the topics that were being discussed right. Into a cogent summary because they were listening as an introvert and observing. So, you know, it's just, it's that awareness. That's another step you can take. Um, I think, uh, also in, uh, changing the workplace setting, that's such a topical area right now. It's changing daily. Isn't it about? Do we go back? Do we not the hybrid and yeah, I think the introverts need to be able to weigh in on that and people say to me, well, how did, how did introverts do during, or they ask me during, you know, the pandemic? Well, I would say that changed over time. You know, I did a survey with almost 200 of my clients who were introverted early on and people were like, oh, this is great.
Jennifer 00:27:49 I wonder, but you know, as it wore on into year two, and even now people, people are saying, you know what? I don't think I'm being as efficient because I'm not seeing my colleagues. I'm not seeing it's all or nothing, but, um, yeah, you know, over, we have to just take the temperature of in, include them in the mix, ask them what's working for them. Um, one of the interesting pieces I came up with, I did research with a firm called Ginsler, which does office design. And they have a very interesting report. If you wanna to subscribe to any of your listeners where they are keeping up on office trends. Now obviously they're an office design company. So, you know, they might be a little bit biased, but I find their, their information really helpful. And one of the things that early on Janet, um, McLaren, who was one of the leads talked to me about was collaboration, socialization, and focus that those three areas are important in, um, in a work environment.
Jennifer 00:28:44 And so where do the introverts come into that? You know, and I think we have a positive opportunity here because before the pandemic, those, you know, cube farms were getting ridiculous and introverts were freaking out in many cases. So I think asking those questions is important and just bringing it up, you know, I think teams, um, need to be diverse on a number of levels. But as I mentioned earlier, like just talking about it and planning with introversion in mind and extroversion, um, can make a big difference in how satisfied your people are and how you keep them.
Michelle BB 00:29:16 I love that. I, you know, and I, I really do, again, I, I feel like you're holding sort of a mirror up for me to, to look at, I will say that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was kind of a relief, right? It's like, oh my gosh, I, I, I am not required to be on as much, but as it's gone along, I've realized that there still is that need, I think, to be in an environment with other people, because there is something to that. I don't wanna do it every day, but I certainly think there's a lot of value. I also think that we've gotta be really careful in this day and age of digital equity when we still have distributed workforces. When we have people who won't be going back into a physical space to make sure that they're heard to make sure that they are valued. And I would, mm-hmm, <affirmative> posit that it's gonna be a lot harder for those who are introverted to have that voice in this environment. Particularly if we've got this hybrid model where some people are in a physical space while others stay remote.
Jennifer 00:30:24 I agree. I agree. Um, so it needs to, it needs to be intentional. The kind of changes, you know, that are being thought through one area that I think leaders can think about too, is a strength that I didn't mention, which is introverts express themselves. Oftentimes through writing. I think we saw that in many of our, and we still see it with our zoom calls. You notice the chat, I've always noticed this over the years, even the pandemic <laugh> accelerated people express themselves in long chats and they're conversing with each other. So it's like, but leaders oftentimes miss out an opportunity, Michelle, um, to hear from people and know that, you know, sometimes it's not just the meeting, but they're gonna express themselves afterwards or before. Um, and so really use writing to, to ask them to, or send them information, to respond to questions, get your, get the answers in writing. Let them think about it. Deep thought is another strength of introverts. So don't just throw things. So I think knowing the, uh, preferences, the style, the work style of introverts and extroverts will help with that challenge that you're mentioned,
Michelle BB 00:31:28 How do we get introverts and extroverts? And I'm gonna, how do we get 'em on the same page? Like how do we, how do we start to bring people together to say, Hey, here's how you can work with each other to the mutual, to the mutual gain of both, but also to the success of the organization, what is the way in which we can bring people together and also ensure that we don't, um, look at introversion as a liability and extroversion as this amazing thing. But instead recognize that collectively we are much stronger.
Jennifer 00:32:05 So yeah, this is a, a question that came up where I started this research was around, uh, I had an introvert come to me and say, yeah, I'm, I'm I feel more empowered now. I've, you know, I know my leadership strengths, but I'm still getting in the office, like you mentioned. And I'm, I'm, you know, we're getting along for a while, like Paul Abdul genius, what is it opposites to track, right? Yes. We're getting along in the beginning and then they're start driving me crazy. And that happens in personal relationships too. Right,
Michelle BB 00:32:33 Right, right. What
Jennifer 00:32:33 First attracted? So I, I looked at, you know, I looked at that, so one of I came, I interviewed many, um, opposite teams, opposite actually payers. They were partners, um, who worked and had successful, uh, work together. And they came from all different, uh, arenas. Uh, and they were all different ages, very, very demographic. And I came up with a number of, there was like five areas that they focused on that mm-hmm, <affirmative> that made fine themes that made the successful, like called it the genius of opposites model. And by the way, each of these models, I have a quiz on my website. That's free that you can take and just see how your relationship is going. Cuz one of the things that happens is that when you have an introvert and extrovert together, if you can harness that, those differences, you can actually, Michelle get more than one plus one.
Jennifer 00:33:21 That's great. I mean, it can be exponential. So one of the steps they take is to accept the alien. So they know that when they accept that other person and their differences, or at least realize they can't change them, then they're in for less stress and then they can kind of work together more effectively. Mm-hmm <affirmative> bring on the battles is something that, uh, I saw many, these of these partners describe, which was not being afraid to bring up differences, to say they might handle a client a different way and not throw it under the rug and talk about it. And they work through it that way, you know, conflict can only gets worse if we keep repressing it. So right. They talk about things and they work through. Um, and then they did a, also a cast, the character, there's a quote from hall and oats, which goes something like you can't have a sunrise without a horizon.
Jennifer 00:34:13 And that was said by the introverted side, you know, that they accept, they won't, <laugh> the introverted person. They don't, um, they don't, um, try to take over the other person's territory. They look at their team together. They, they both celebrate the wins. Um, I had a wonderful example with a sales team of Marty and Brian who talked about how Marty would be up there, just kind of doing his extroverted pitch. And then Brian would talk with individuals within the audience and kind of find out where they were on the sales, um, cycle. And they together would then close the deal and, and figure out who was gonna follow up and work so beautifully together. And they were the top performing, you know, sales team because of that. And they were totally totally opposite, but I heard many examples of that. And then they also, um, cast the character.
Jennifer 00:35:02 They destroy the dislike, which is a kind of tongue and sheet wave of saying, you know, they had fun. They had to respect each other, um, right. And act like friends, even if they weren't like best friends on the weekends, they had fun. And if you've ever worked in organizations where it's like that, it, it really makes work so much more. Um, I don't wanna say joyful, but it is it's, it's just fun when you kid each other about your differences too. Right? Absolutely. Right. I, so I, and I can think of a team that still to this day we get together, like 15 years later, I worked at a big fortune 50 company and we were so different. Um, but we laughed a lot, you know, and we, we were open about our differences and I think I saw that happen with these partnerships.
Jennifer 00:35:46 And then finally, the last thing they do, it's, it's kind of a, B, C, D E. So what's the E it's each can't offer everything and they realize that they each have their own strengths. And so with clients, with customers, with suppliers, they, uh, they bring their, uh, their, their a game. And they also, aren't afraid to disagree in front of those people and clients. And the end user will oftentimes say, I like getting your different perspectives. So again, they really shine because they're, um, those two differences really do bubble up to make it better than one.
Michelle BB 00:36:21 I love that. I love that Jennifer. And, you know, look we have had,
Jennifer 00:36:26 I wish people could see the cover. You can Michelle, see, look at that, of that book. <laugh> the genius of yes. So, right.
Michelle BB 00:36:35 Yes. Yes. And you know, this has been such, this has, that's been such a great conversation. I, I appreciate so much of what you've shared and, and personally, I've learned a lot. I do have a final question for you cause I know we've, we've certainly gone well over our time. Um, and I thank you so much for, for all of it, but I wanna ask this question of you. It's a variation on something that I've asked all of my guests since I started this podcast two and a half years ago. And, um, I'm really eager to hear your responses and it's a three parter, just so you know, the first question is what are you learning right now? Mm-hmm <affirmative> or what have you recently learned something you really are excited about second? How are you applying that learning? And then third, what advice would you share with others? So what are you learning? How are you applying? What advice would you give?
Jennifer 00:37:28 What I'm learning now is writing is about writing poetry. I discovered it during the lockdown and I recently am proud to say, I won a prize for the Atlanta writer's club. Ah, just because I wrote so many poems and I went and attended a number of these zoom classes and I discovered poetry teachers and small groups of, of people that would give you critiques on your poems. And my poems, uh, really were not ones that I ever expected would come outta me, but they just kind of came. And it was a wonderful way for me to express my emotion, both the frustrating side and the joy and the appreciation of life. I mean, we've all been through so much over the last few years. Um, so I could express myself and I think what it did was really the impact it had for me was loosen up my creative side even more. And it spilled over into my, into my other work cuz we're, you know, creativity affects every part of what we do and not just at work mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> so I would, the advice I would share with others is don't be afraid to delve into an area that you'd never consider doing it. You know, it's a risk, it takes courage, but the rewards are so great. And so I, I really am so appreciative that I was locked down to discover, uh, poetry. So thanks for that question.
Michelle BB 00:38:49 Well, I would love for you to share some of that poetry. If you could send us those links. That's amazing. I am so grateful Jennifer, that we had this opportunity to speak. I think I learned a lot about myself, but hopefully everyone out there, especially those of you who might think or know that you're introverted learned something about yourself and for those who are extroverted, maybe you learn something about your peers or how to interact and engage with them. So Jennifer, thank you so much for joining us here today.
Jennifer 00:39:22 It's been my total pleasure. I love learning from you, Michelle,
Michelle BB 00:39:29 As an introverted leader, myself, this conversation was insightful and illuminating and to our listeners. Thanks as always for tuning into this into every episode. As we unleash our edge, you know, at Skillsoft, we propel organizations and people to grow together through transformative learning experiences that growth can only be realized when organizations respect the strengths of every contributor, regardless of age, race, gender ability, or even as we explore today, temperament, Jennifer has done a tremendous job helping us better understand the strengths of the introverted leader and how organizations and allies can support them to the benefit of all. I encourage you to visit Jennifer's website. You'll find the link in the description of this podcast and learn more about her books. Quiet influence the genius of opposites, the introverted leader and creating introvert friendly workplaces. Thanks again. I'm Michelle BB. This is the edge and until next time, keep learning, keep growing and be well.
About Our Guest
Jennifer Kahnweiler, PhD, is a bestselling author and one of the top global leadership speakers on introverts in the workplace. Her pioneering books, The Introverted Leader, Quiet Influence,The Genius of Opposites, and Creating Introvert-Friendly Workplaces have been translated into 18 languages. The Introverted Leader was named one of the top 5 business books by The Shanghai Daily.
About Our Host
As Chief Marketing Officer, Michelle leads a global marketing organization, focused on transforming today’s workforce for tomorrow’s economy. Since joining the company, she has been responsible for Skillsoft’s global marketing strategy, which includes generating awareness, driving preference, and building affinity for Skillsoft. Additionally – and perhaps most importantly – Michelle serves as the company's brand evangelist, helping to build a vibrant community of passionate learners.
With more than 25 years of marketing, branding, and strategy experience, Michelle has made it her personal mission to support the advancement of women in business. Prior to Skillsoft, she served as Chief Marketing Officer of IBM Watson, where she was instrumental in developing the first “Women Leaders in AI” program, which honors women who put AI to work across industries and around the globe. She also served as the global head of marketing for The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helping companies understand how to anticipate, plan for, and ultimately make better decisions – with greater confidence – in the face of weather.
Michelle is a prolific speaker on a range of topics, including the war for talent, digital transformation, and marketing in a post-pandemic world. She covers these topics and more as the host of Skillsoft's podcast, The Edge, now in its second season. She has authored countless papers covering a range of business and marketing topics, was at the center of Skillsoft’s leadership role in DEI through free “Leadercamps,” and has taught two Percipio courses on the Pink Pandemic and Public Speaking.
Michelle is also a founding member of CMO Huddles, a group dedicated to bringing together and empowering highly effective B2B CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. Michelle holds a Master’s degree from Simmons University and sits on the pro side of the Oxford comma debate.