Leaders don’t need to be loud to be influential. Quiet influencers can be highly effective because of these five strengths.
What do Apple CEO Tim Cook, Warren Buffet, Condoleezza Rice and Steven Spielberg have in common?
They are all introverts—highly effective quiet influencers—who use their natural strengths to make a big difference without making a lot of noise. Finally, we’re realizing there’s more than one way to have a say in today’s shifting workplace. In fact, the following business trends indicate that the introvert’s time has come:
1. Flattened organizations. Gone are the days when decisions were passed up the hierarchical ladder. Now there are many paths to a decision, which opens up all kinds of space for different types of influence—including the quiet kind.
2. Global businesses. Traditional extroverted approaches may work well in U.S.-centric organizational cultures, but leaders with more reflective, low-key influencing styles will be much more effective in many other regions of the world, such as Asia.
3. Virtual activity. Introverts have been drawn to social media because it lets them use their strengths and better manage their communication. Quiet influencers, who have already invested in learning and using social media, are poised to affect tomorrow’s change more quickly than influencers who have ignored these technologies.
4. Heightened competition. Companies are seeking suppliers and employees who bring fresh, innovative approaches. The truth is, extrovert-centric self-promotion and loud persuasion are passé. Today, people stand out from the crowd if they have a knack for building up others and are committed to listening instead of talking.
Introverts can be highly effective influencers when they stop trying to act like extroverts and instead make the most of their natural strengths. Here are five strengths they embrace:
1. Take quiet time. Introverts prioritize periods of solitude that provides them with a powerful source of creativity and self-awareness.
2. Prepare. Introverts increase their confidence to influence others by increasing their knowledge, creating a strategy and rehearsing.
3. Listen. This innate introvert talent helps quiet introverts establish rapport and mutual understanding—especially when they observe body language, ask questions and serve as a sounding board for others.
4. Have focused conversations. Introverts excel at the serious, purpose-driven, one-on-one or small group interactions vital for problem solving, working through conflicts and winning people over.
5. Use social media thoughtfully. Introverts naturally use social media in a thoughtful and more effective way to develop and grow relationships, achieve visibility, and mobilize people—even those far across the globe.
If we are open to building our influencing toolbox through conscious practice, we can perfect core skills, develop heightened sensibilities and bump up confidence to influence all kinds of people and situations. As a result, we will greatly enhance our influencing success rate by embracing an alternative to traditionally western “Type A” view of interactions.