For the last couple of years, I was confident that my outgoing personality is what got me where I am today. As much as that may be true, it was brought to my attention this week that it may hinder where I want to be. My extrovert characteristics including being assertive (with respect) has driven results in many pressing situations. However, it takes sustaining self-awareness to truly seek understanding. And thus I've taken a vow to seek out the introvert in me.
Leadership takes many forms. But ultimately, the strength in a strong leader is when the people are willing to follow. If you don't want to emulate or look up to someone, you might as well kick him or her away from the podium.
In a world where leaders are getting younger and younger, "mature" leaders are becoming scarce. Fresh out of college, the enthusiasm is good for being hardworking change agents. We're great for working late hours and being upbeat at 8 in the morning after pulling an all-nighter (with the help of a large ice coffee and two extra shots of espresso of course).
So in order to build my credibility as a true 'mature' leader, there are specific, simple actions I am willing to take.
Nod and Smile with Silence
Often times, people can be very rude in the workplace, especially under stress. They blame others for missed deliverables even when there's no major impact. Being passionate about my work, I had a tendency of responding eagerly to anyone who knew how to push my buttons. But the technique that makes me stronger is just listening. I have a great smile so even though I may look crazy smiling during a crisis, it helps in keeping any unnecessary words from coming out of my mouth. This prevents conflict and demonstrates strong communication.
Keeping it short, like me
Communication is key; especially as a leader. However, if you're just throwing random words out there, people stop listening. Next time you're standing in front of your team or peers, just say what's important. What message are you trying to say? What key terms will you say to keep them engaged? What questions will you ask to ensure effective communication was met? Time is everything and if you can't keep it brief you might as well not say anything at all.
Ask: what's the point?
To sum up it all up, we strive to succeed in our life- inside or outside of work. We do so by building relationships through conversing about key strategies or who's making it to the Rose Bowl. Being an extrovert in nature, I live off the energy of others but I start to ask myself what's the point.
In the last three years, I went from being a little intern to a technical leader and manufacturing engineer. Almost every senior leader in my organization is watching my every move. And to blow it all away from a measly comment or phrase would be just plain pathetic. My key message is to stop and think before speaking. Is what I'm going to say next even worth my breath? My career?
Most times... It's not.
Introverts have a way of internalizing their environment mainly by just listening. So why don't you take a stance to find the introvert in you?