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  • Are You An Introverted Boss?

    Introverts aren’t as aloof as they appear. I often prefer to listen to people than to speak and I find it very difficult to pretend that I’m naturally out-going when I’m not.

    Upstart: Management

    Every time I’ve taken a Meyers-Briggs test, I score high on the introversion scale. As an introvert, I enjoy being by myself. I sometimes feel

    Courtesy: Alexander Oshvintsev/PhotoXpress

    drained if I have to be in front of large groups of people I don’t know. After I’ve been in a social situation — including a long day at work — I need quiet time to be alone with my thoughts and recharge. But as a CEO of a company with more than 18,000 employees, I’ve found myself particularly challenged because so much of my work requires me to be “out there” in front of others.

    So how do I manage this? And what advice would I have for other introverted managers — and for the people who have to work with us? Here are a few personal observations that might prove helpful:

    Introverts need thinking time. I tend to do my best thinking when I can carve out some “alone time” to reflect on important decisions that need to be made. So if I’m facing a big decision, I will create a process in which I can fully vet issues with others, and reflect on the choices before me. Of course, most decisions need to be made on the spur of the moment when I have incomplete information. However, I have found that I make my best decisions when I approach them in a way that feels comfortable to me as an introvert.

    Introverts aren’t as aloof as they appear. In meetings, introverts can often be perceived as aloof, disinterested, shy or retiring. In my case, I often times prefer to listen to people than to speak and I find it very difficult to pretend that I’m naturally out-going when I’m not. When viewed from the outside, it may seem that I’m not openly contributing as much as I could or should, but that’s just because I’m busy listening and thinking.

    One of the best ways I’ve found to help people overcome their discomfort around my behavior is to simply declare myself. I tell them, “If you see me looking aloof, please understand that I’m shy, and I need you to call me out.” By declaring myself in this way, I’ve found other people quickly, and compassionately, adapt to my style.

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    Filed Under: Management


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