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Managing Introverts: How to Foster and Sustain Innovation From the “Quiet” Ones
Guest blog written by Meri Tunison
In a post last September, the blog team explored the ideas of Paul Glen in his book Leading Geeks. He proposed advantages and tips to learning how to work with programmers. Of course, this is a particularly important group of people within eLearning companies—thus our natural interest in his ideas!
At the recent ASAE conference (American Society of Association Executives), traditional management strategies and values were yet again challenged by a passionate author. This time, Susan Cain invited business managers to consider the findings she details in her New York Times bestseller. Aptly titled Quiet, Cain’s book reveals insights about people who either self-identify or are labeled as introverts. Most importantly, she offers ideas on how to understand and support introverts in our relationships, in our communities, and in our workplaces.
What is “Quiet” about?
In a world that “can’t stop talking,” according to Cain, it is often difficult for introverts to be recognized as contributing—and essential—members of society. It is not in their nature to seek the attention and validation that many extroverts crave as motivation—and this often results in introverts being undervalued unfairly. In Quiet, Cain’s exploration of these qualities and how introverts manifest them is hugely important to understanding how introverts think, relate, and create. She explores similar ideas in a TED talk, accessible on Cain’s website, as well as shared below.
How are eLearning companies connected?
For eLearning companies, the “introvert” label might be most easily (and sometimes inaccurately) applied to quieter and more individualistic roles– a programmer, perhaps. An accountant. An IT developer. A graphic artist.
Many introverts may gravitate towards these roles. However, as Cain proves, introverts can also be found in roles traditionally seen as more favorable to extroverts—high pressure situations on a deadline, speaking and managing large groups of people at once, always on the go-go-go.
The key is providing introverts in your workplace with the right tools to be successful in a variety of situations. Cain interviews real people who identify as introverts and are extremely successful in leadership positions, sales positions, “people positions”, etc. It’s all about finding ways to tap into their potential—that is what makes a person successful.
Recommendations for Managing Introverts
Based on the findings and stories in Quiet, here are five tips to managers on how to successfully tap into the innovation of introverts in a 21st century workplace. Each recommendation includes a brief overview and a specific idea on how to accomplish it.
Here’s a sneak peek:
Little is written on the topic of managing computer programmers, and I find that frustrating considering how important this is to managing an eLearning business. The book entitled Leading Geeks by Paul Glen presented new ideas that inspired me to…
Are You An Expert?: Stereotyping the SME Tomorrow, I will be participating in the 2011 Midwest Forum on Talent Management right here in Madison, WI. The event is back for another year of discussion with nationally recognized speakers on accelerating…
I recently had lunch with an old acquaintance from the University of Wisconsin, Kathleen Paris, Ph.D. She has, over many years, been involved with the University’s efforts to improve quality and promote strategic planning. After reading her book, Staying Healthy in Sick Organizations: The Clover Practice™, I have found that many of the principles and methods that she has developed and laid out in her book, can be applied in our own eLearning departments to improve our work environment and the quality of our team work.
The University of Wisconsin has been holding an annual distance education conference over the past 25 years. This means that during the 1980’s educators were discussing how to reach learners through the media of radio and television. Today, of course, it is all about using the Internet to educate and inform.
This year I will be conducting a workshop on casual games, speaking on my research topic: factors that enable team collaboration. I will also be participating in the Think Tank sessions and the Closing Panel.
I have been laboring…writing my dissertation chapters for the last seven months. My topic: What Factors Enable Collaboration between the SME and the IDD teams?
Suddenly. Brainstorm! I realized that my Ph.D. dissertation project has its own project momentum. The better I had organized my writing time, writing environment, and completion goals, the more engaged and passionate I became and the more I seemed to get done: analysis, reflection, and writing.