Introverted leadership

The Quiet Power of Introverted Leaders

We all know the stereotype of a “successful” leader – outgoing, charismatic, well-rounded, unflappable, confident and assertive – with a pedigree from a top school, of course. In short…an extrovert.

But how accurate is this? (hint: it’s not – few of us fit into any particular “mold”)

Where do introverts fit into the leadership equation?

If you’re an introvert, you’ve probably encountered statements like these during your career:

  • Try being a little more social; you’ll attract so many more opportunities that way.
  • If I were you, I’d speak up more so people actually know what you’re thinking.
  • Be more outgoing! If you want to climb the corporate ladder, you’ve got to be noticed.

Despite conventional wisdom and decades of conditioning in many workplace cultures that outgoing, extroverted leadership is the only way to success, here’s what we really know: introverts make great leaders (oh yes we do!).

How so? Let’s start by putting things in perspective with a great quote from author Rob Asghar in a Forbes article on introverts in leadership:

“There’s no one-size-fits-all kind of leader. The manner of leader your organization needs always depends on the situation.”

power of introverted leadersNow more than ever, the dynamic world we live in demands a range of talented individuals to lead in innovative new ways. It’s undeniable there are settings where extroverts are the best fit. But more and more, organizations are leveraging the distinct advantages introverts can bring.

With their quiet presence, introverted leaders offer a number of benefits

Introverted leaders are often:

  • Driven by productivity. But how will they lead? That’s a common question when hiring an introvert, even when she meets all the other qualifications of the job. Truth? Introverts are absolutely driven to succeed – they’re simply motivated by different factors than their more extroverted counterparts. They may not be as concerned about shining in the limelight, but you can bet their steady presence will guide the organization to success.
  • Pros at solving complex problems. Introverts are able to give thoughtful consideration to problems large and small, methodically outlining the pros and cons to determine the best path forward. Far from adopting a “my way or the highway” mentality, many introverts welcome input and feedback from their teams to develop the smartest course of action.
  • Masterful decision-makers. Decision-making and leadership go hand-in-hand. Here’s a little science for you – a 2012 study found that introverts were more inclined to have larger, thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex as compared to extroverts. The prefrontal cortex is associated with abstract thinking and decision-making.
  • Able to develop meaningful relationships. One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they’re not social or interested in building relationships. Yet, many often possess an uncanny ability to strategically develop and maintain lasting relationships. Introverts can be excellent, thoughtful listeners and often do well in one-on-one settings or in smaller groups.
  • Wizards at bringing out the best in others. Introverts value the unique contributions of others and generally emphasize a “we” rather than a more narrow “me” focus. According to an HBR article, “In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders—particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business.”

Introverted leadershipIntroverted leaders are all around us

In an increasingly distracted and fast-changing world, we need thoughtful, calm leaders whose capacity for focus and observation are absolutely necessary for teams.”

Henna Inam in Forbes

You may not realize it, but introverted leaders are all around us. In fact, some of the most impactful leaders and change makers throughout history were introverts.

May Inc.com’s list of 23 of the Most Amazingly Successful Introverts in History inspire you today. Some names here might surprise you – but what this really shows is how we all have a unique, meaningful purpose to share with the world.

Here are a few notable names that you may never have guessed are introverts:

  • Former First Lady Hilary Clinton
  • Civil rights activist Rosa Parks
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg
  • Former US President Barack Obama

Introvert…extrovert…or ambivert?

But what if it feels like you don’t fit into any category – introvert or extrovert? You’re not alone – I’ve actually found that about two-thirds of us are not true extroverts or introverts. We’re actually ambiverts.

Ambiverts have aspects of both traits at their disposal. In other words, think “continuum” rather than “category.” For those of us who don’t fall into any category but rather somewhere on that continuum, the benefits can be substantial because we can thrive in a wider spectrum of environments.

In the real world, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. At different times in life, we may discover that we’re more aligned with extroverted qualities; at other times, we embrace our inner introvert.

No matter where you fall on the spectrum, know that we are each here to live our purpose and to make a meaningful impact in our world. How will you leverage your unique capabilities to make that happen?

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Conscious leadership

Transform into a more conscious leader with these 5 strategies.

Conscious leadership is so much more than tossing around buzzwords of the moment, adding another inspirational image to your Instagram, or tweeting a motivational quote.

The journey of conscious leadership can be thought of as a deep, continual process that ultimately brings the best of your inner self out into the world of form so that you can create the greatest impact as you inspire those around you.

Conscious leaders know that as we expand our understanding of who we are and what our unique purpose is, we’re better able to deepen our impact as our powerful authenticity unfolds, radiating from within out into our sphere of influence.

Tempted?

Here are 5 practical strategies to help you become a more conscious leader:

Conscious leadership
1. Write your purpose statement.

Knowing your personal “why” is key to your own development. You might be surprised at how many people go through the motions of each day (focusing on the “what”) without truly having an understanding of the “why” behind what they’re doing.

One of the most effective ways to get clear on your own “why” is to craft a personal purpose statement. This is just for you – there are no rules to follow, no specific guidelines you must meet – let your creativity flow and use this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the visions you have for your future.

2. Cultivate a self-care practice.

Far from being selfish, self care allows you to reenergize you so you can bring your full presence into all that you do. After all, none of us can give from an empty cup.

When it comes to self-care, you don’t really have to “do” anything – there is no special practice to follow, no app to download, no seminar, workshop, or training to attend. Your self-care routine can involve anything that nurtures and soothes you – listen to your heart here and allow yourself to spoil the inner you.

This is the beginning of a virtuous circle around you:  the kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you will likely be to others. The more they receive kindness, the more they can give it to themselves and others. And so on. Think about it: it all starts with you.

Conscious leadershipThink BOLDLY: Today, I encourage you to expand your concept of self-care by taking a few moments out to reflect on all that you’ve accomplished on your journey. And, contrary to what some of you may be thinking, this is not blah-blah. Even HBR has researched and written about how acknowledging our achievements is a form of self-care (“Acknowledging Your Achievements Is a Form of Self-Care”).

3. Focus on the “we” – not the “me.”

The most impactful organizations aren’t solely focused on employee perks. In an article on Inc.com, Glint CEO Jim Barnett takes the concept of conscious leadership a step further by reminding us how conscious leadership can create conscious organizations.

He explains, “The vision behind my conscious leadership style stems from wanting to bring awareness, authenticity and caring to my leadership role. This means I bring my whole, authentic self to work and try to lead from a place of trust, responsibility, curiosity, integrity and ease. I work hard to create an environment with no drama, a focus on “we” not “me,” and where we believe in creating “wins for all” vs. win-lose scenarios.

So, you see: self-care does indeed fit into the greater concept of a whole conscious organization. When we’re willing to take good care of ourselves first, we lay the foundation to bring our best, most authentic presence into all that we do. Thus, we lay the foundation necessary to inspire others to do the same, resulting in a cumulative positive effect.

4. Encourage feedback.

Many leaders find they’re more focused on giving feedback rather than receiving it. Truth be told, many leadership articles focus on how to effectively give employee feedback. And rightly so – constructive feedback fuels the growth of an organization by bringing attention to what needs to change while highlighting what’s already working. This same concept can deepen your capacity to lead with far greater ease.

Inviting others to share their honest feedback with you is a win-win situation – you gain valuable insight and perhaps the chance to better recognize your blind spots that could use attention. Plus, you enjoy the opportunity to cultivate trust and deepen your relationships.

One caveat here, though: remember to balance developmental feedback with feedback about what makes us great. All of us exhibit greatness. And, as humans, all of us – at all levels of the organization – need to be reminded of it and know others see it as well.

5. Be inspired every single day.

If you’re not fully grounded, it can sometimes be challenging to navigate the often turbulent waters of life. A quick visit to Facebook, Twitter, or any conventional news outlet often yields a whole lot of drama.

Conscious leadersLet this motivate you to find inspiration in everything. When you find that a situation seems discouraging or downright disturbing, ask:

  • What can be learned from this?
  • Is there a way I can positively contribute or serve others?
  • What might be happening beneath the waterline, that is, just below the surface of human perception?

It’s so important to know that conscious leadership is an ever-evolving process of growth and deeper understanding – not a once-and-you’re-done task.

Gain more practical tips and easy-to-implement strategies to help you transform into a more conscious leader…sign up for my free Weekly Bold Moves right here, delivered fresh to your inbox each week!

Set your intentions

Set Your Goals, Live Your Intentions

The New Year, infused with excitement and enthusiasm, inspires many to look brightly to the future. It’s a perfect time to give your dreams another chance – with a deadline!

Different areas of the globe observe their own unique festivities. For many, New Year’s resolutions are willfully pledged and hefty goals are resolved – with an imaginative intention and a belief that this year really will be different.

Ah, but the best goals oftentimes wither into nothingness, and the newly-born year quickly succumbs to the same frustrations of the past. Consider, for example, those who resolve to exercise more. Gyms are typically packed in January, but completely empty by March.

So, what happened to those bold goals and lofty intentions?

More importantly, are you aware of the distinction between a goal and an intention?

Set goalsGoals Have Their Purpose – Externally

Goals are aims we establish for ourselves – but they are outside of ourselves. Goals are often about a destination. Once set, goals are useful in that they provide a roadmap of where we want to drive our lives.

Setting goals is the first step into turning the invisible into the visible.

-Tony Robbins 

Keep it simple:  keep your goals specific and realistic. Don’t fill your plate with a smorgasbord of goals just because it’s a New Year and everybody’s doing it.

Goals are very heady, something outside of our inner self, and very much IQ driven. Goals are expressly about the “what” we want to achieve – our future state.

On your way to reaching a goal, it can be easy to fall into an “are we there yet?” mentality. After all, goals are most often associated with a destination – somewhere we haven’t attained yet. Once the initial gratification of achieving the goal has worn off, “what’s next?” is often the immediate response we ask ourselves.

Sometimes, that can cause us to feel uncomfortable with ourselves, as though somehow we’re inadequate as we are.

For the greatest chances of success, goals need to be authentic. When you decide on a goal to please someone else – and it’s not really representative of your core self – it’s doomed to failure.

Intentions, On the Other Hand, Have Their Purpose – Internally

Intentions involve the heart and are therefore more deeply rooted. Intentions are all about the process, your process – the “why” in your life, your way of living. When you focus on your intentions, you’re keeping true to yourself, your inner values, who you are. It’s all about being present now – unlike goals that are something in the future.

A good intention clothes itself with power.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Intentions keep you true to your Self and to your strongest yearnings. An Inc.com article by Maria Tabaka cited the importance of setting intentions:

  • Setting intentions takes your mind off problemsSet your intentions. You learn to pay attention to the path of your day. The result? You’ll find you’re grateful for so many things you might otherwise have overlooked.
  • Intentions can go beyond just “me” to a more expansive “we”. Intentions don’t have to focus on you specifically, but rather upon who you want to be and how you want that to impact the lives of others.
  • There’s no limit to intentions. A study demonstrated that water can be influenced by thought. Consider that for a minute – then imagine the positive changes that can take place within you and your world by setting intentions.

The power of your intentions has a greater impact on your life than your actions.

-Debasish Mridha

Fulfilling Intentions Creates Meaningful Transformations

A few years ago, I set out on a transformation process of my own. I followed my inner voice and stepped into who I really am.

This positive transformation is reflected in my new, updated website. (Check it out here: www.boldermoves.com.)

In my own transformation process, I realized the website I had been putting out to the world reflected a version of me that was not really who I am. So I sought help in coming up with a new design (a mix of Zen and bold) and language (a blend of business and mindfulness) that let the ‘authentic’ me shine through.

I haven’t lost track of my goals. They’re specific. They’re authentic. I want to help wake up the world.

And my intentions? They keep me grounded. They’re like little reminders to check in with myself, to make sure I’m being kind to myself and those in my life. They remind me that life is a journey, and that I’ll enjoy the ride by keeping true to myself. And, anyway, if I am not loving the Work, why should anyone follow me?

Follow your intuition, listening to your dreams, your inner voice to guide you.

-Katori Hall

When you pair your goals with your intentions, it’s like linking your unique journey with the destination. And for those of us seeking greater wholeness, how much more inspiring and empowering could that be?

Get more practical tips and easy-to-implement strategies to help you identify your goals with greater ease (and set those intentions, too!)…sign up for my free Weekly Bold Moves right here, delivered fresh to your inbox each week.