by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
Gary Silverman owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the editor of the financial newsletter Personal Money Planning, writes the newspaper columns Your Money and Biz2Biz, and hosts the cable talk show, Money Cent$. You can contact him at www.PersonalMoneyPlanning.com.
I'm involved in a number of civic and professional organizations. I am the host of a local cable television talk show. I give a myriad of speeches, do seminar marketing, and taught college for many years. I tell you this not to brag, but to compare my actions to my psychology. You see, on any psychological profile I've taken, I tend to arrive on the introverted side of the introversion-extroversion scale. Given all of my people-facing activities, how can that be?
First, there is no single introvert personality. Nor are you completely either an introvert or an extrovert; there are shades in-between. The main thing to realize is that social contact with people wears introverts down, while the extrovert feels recharged in the same situation.
Many people think that leadership and extroversion go hand-in-hand. After all, how can someone drained by being around people possibly lead them? The Introverted Leader by Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D., dispels this myth. The general public tends to be surprised at this turnaround, as do many introverts. An estimated 40 percent of executives are introverted, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. I'd say that shows introverts shouldn't be limited to behind-the-scenes support roles, wouldn't you?
True or not, we perceive introverts not as quiet, thoughtful people, but as withdrawn, shy, and maybe even insensitive. Because they are quiet, their thoughts and needs may go unmentioned or unnoticed. We may not hear the introvert's ideas, as he or she tends to think through a problem before talking about it-opposite of the extroverts, who often speak before thinking. This leads to the perception that introverts are indecisive, while the quick-speaking extrovert's decisions are firm and absolute.
The Introverted Leader's audience includes a wide variety of professionals. To help companies from missing out on the full potential of half their employees, Dr. Kahnweiler wrote for both the introvert and for those who manage and mentor them. You see, one of the effects of introversion is that the introvert can become invisible within their own company. This results in many lost opportunities, not just for the introvert, but for the firm they work for as well.
Although not an introvert herself, Kahnweiler (a self-professed "babbling brook" extrovert) has researched the topic and has been married to an introvert for decades. She has learned of their challenges, studied how successful introverted leaders manage their introversion, analyzed both the strengths and weaknesses of the introverted personality, and given the reader chapters full of applications.
She introduces the "4 P's Process" which includes preparation, presence, push, and practice. These are ways to transform an introvert's challenges into opportunities. Next, Kahnweiler concentrates on ways to help the introvert identify their strengths and soft spots (which is apparently the politically correct way to say "weakness"). Each of the soft spots is highlighted in its own chapter, including public speaking, managing and leading, heading up projects, and more.
Introverts who have seen their careers sidelined or their talents marginalized, as well as managers of introverts anxious to inspire their employees to succeed, will benefit from this book by discovering ways to unlock otherwise wasted potential.
(If you're not ready for Kahnweiler's book yet, try her blog. You can find it at www.theintrovertedleaderblog.com/. There she shares stories and tips for, to, and by the introverted community, most of which would be good for an extrovert to learn.)
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. (2009)