Tap Into Your Strengths

Tap Into Your Strengths

I am happy to introduce you to Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of the new book Genius of Opposites. Jennifer is passionate about helping introverts find their leadership voice by embracing their natural traits, rather than forcing themselves to act like their more outgoing counterparts. Her words today are helpful for introverts and extroverts alike.

In February, I took part in a great 4-hour session on the LinkedIn group Connect: Professional Women’s Network, where we discussed the idea of introverted leadership.  Here are some excerpts from that event:

Many introverts assume that because they’re not outgoing, they’re not cut out to be leaders. In your experience, what are some of the traits that make introverts excel as leaders?

Introverts are leaders. They are some of the best bosses people say they ever had. One of the key strengths they exhibit as leaders is listening. In fact, research done by Adam Grant and his colleagues several years ago revealed that introverted leaders were the best kind to have with extroverted employees because of this fact. Those teams achieved high levels of performance.

The 4 P’s is a process I designed based on what I learned from interviewing and working with successful introverted leaders. First, they PREPARE for the people part as much as the task itself. Next, they have PRESENCE – they are in the moment and engaged without distraction. Next, they PUSH – they stretch themselves and help their teams to the same. Finally, they PRACTICE – they are continually practicing and refining their leadership skills.

It’s often easy for an introvert to be outgoing on social media but much more difficult to keep up that personality in face-to-face interactions. Do you have any tips on how to keep your on and offline personalities consistent with each other?

I don’t think there has to be a disconnect here. Introverts often are about depth vs. breadth. So when they are online or writing they tend to explore and analyze topics thoughtfully. What I love about social media is that we get to explore these thoughts online and our dialogues can be so rich.

When we meet in person we know about that person and their perspectives. It jumpstarts the face-to-face conversations. Also, introverts are very comfortable in one-on-one face-to-face conversations where they can engage. So actually both ways of communicating work beautifully together.

What can extroverts learn from introverts?

They can learn to take quiet time and pause. They can slow down, consider what they are saying and let their creativity emerge. In this world of overstimulation, extroverts are starting to appreciate these gifts that introverts bring to the world.

Another quality that extroverts are learning is the power of observation. There is so much to be learned by just watching people.

One extroverted woman who was traveling alone told me recently that she observed a quiet saleswoman with a group of 10 extroverted salesmen at the table next to her. The woman’s poise, easy verbal banter and confidence impressed her so that she was inspired to try on that same approach in her company.

Introverts get results when they tap into what is natural for them. tweet this

If you are an introvert, what natural strengths do you see in yourself that could help you become a more effective leader?


Post adapted from jenniferkahnweiler.com
Image credit: unsplash


author_headshot_jennifer_kahnweilerJennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., Certified Speaking Professional, is a bestselling author and global keynote speaker known as the “champion for introverts.” In addition to her latest book, The Genius of Opposites, she has written two bestselling books about introverts (Quiet Influence and The Introverted Leader), which have been translated into 14 languages. Learn more at JenniferKahnweiler.com!



Enter A Comment

Jennifer Kahnweiler   |   18 August 2015   |   Reply

Susan – I love your work! Thank you for sharing some excerpts from our engaging Linked In discussion. We all have so much to learn from each other.

Susan Mazza   |   19 August 2015   |   Reply

Thanks so much Jennifer for sharing your wisdom with Random Acts of Leadership readers. As an introvert myself I am always interested in how to leverage the best of that predisposition. When we talk about diversity all to often we revert to thinking about ethnicity but there are so many other dimensions of diversity worth considering and embracing. Your book deals with an important element of diversity that if embraced and nurtured consciously can serve to elevate our performance.

Michele Renee Renaud   |   19 August 2015   |   Reply

I was happy to receive the Genius of opposites book from Becky Robinson (Weaving Influence). In process of completing the read.

As an “introvert”, who can be and often is extroverted in the right places, with the right people, for the right reasons; the book already resonates a deeper meaning.

Enlightenment that comes from within is something we all have, yet it comes out or is manifested differently. Opposites either attract or detract and its good to know that in-spite of those differences, together we all have a part of growth, change and acceptance.

To Jennifer Kahnweller: When the “Genius of Opposites” collide in a collaborative manner, the synergetic response becomes harmonious.

Susan   |   19 August 2015   |   Reply

i can really relate to being an introvert by nature but also being extroverted at times. People are often surprised when I say I am an introvert. Some of it is having to learn how to function in environments that lean to the extroverts. And some is that I love people so engaging in an extroverted way is often bit of an adrenaline rush. It’s great in the moment but depletes my energy rather than fuels it which I think is one of the fundamental differences between introverts and extroverts.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Michele.

Jennifer Kahnweiler   |   19 August 2015   |   Reply

Thank you Michelle! I am glad you are validating the research. That we are better together!

Tom Hood   |   21 August 2015   |   Reply

Great post! The idea of tapping into your strengths and recognizing “introverts” as one of those strengths is awesome. As an accidental introverted leader, I have come to learn how to use my introvert as a strength. I am also a big van of the Gallup/Clifton Strengths-Finder work and theories around leadership. Thanks!

Susan Mazza   |   22 August 2015   |   Reply

“Accidental introverted leader” – love that Tom. I’ve worked with quite a few of those! They are often strong leaders because of their focus is on their own excellence and on making others shine. Thanks for stopping by.