Reblog: The Power of Introverts

Image from vialogue.wordpress

I was pointed toward this fascinating article by Tyler Tervooren’s blog. Susan Cain wrote a book called “Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking.” This is a TED talk she presented on the power of introverts. Excerpts:

To see the bias clearly you need to understand what introversion is. It’s different from being shy. Shyness is about fear of social judgment. Introversion is more about, how do you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation. So extroverts really crave large amounts of stimulation, whereas introverts feel at their most alive and their most switched-on and their most capable when they’re in quieter, more low-key environments. Not all the time – these things aren’t absolute – but a lot of the time. So the key then to maximizing our talents is for us all to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that is right for us.

Even Carl Jung, the psychologist who first popularized these terms, said that there’s no such thing as a pure introvert or a pure extrovert. He said that such a man would be in a lunatic asylum, if he existed at all.

When it comes to leadership, introverts are routinely passed over for leadership positions, even though introverts tend to be very careful, much less likely to take outsize risks –  which is something we might all favor nowadays. And interesting research by Adam Grant at the Wharton School has found that introverted leaders often deliver better outcomes than extroverts do, because when they are managing proactive employees, they’re much more likely to let those employees run with their ideas, whereas an extrovert can, quite unwittingly, get so excited about things that they’re putting their own stamp on things, and other people’s ideas might not as easily then bubble up to the surface.

We hit the 20th century and we entered a new culture that historians call the culture of personality. What happened is we had evolved an agricultural economy to a world of big business. And so suddenly people are moving from small towns to the cities. And instead of working alongside people they’ve known all their lives, now they are having to prove themselves in a crowd of strangers. So, quite understandably, qualities like magnetism and charisma suddenly come to seem really important.

Groups famously follow the opinions of the most dominant or charismatic person in the room, even though there’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas – I mean zero. So you might be following the person with the best ideas, but you might not. And do you really want to leave it up to chance?



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