Managing Introverts

Managing Introverts

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,[1] 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:


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