If you’re an introvert—or have a lot of introverts on your staff—we’ve got good news for you.
Results of our latest unscientific reader poll show that your peers overwhelmingly agree that some of the best ideas come from the quietest people in the room. About half (50 percent) of respondents strongly agreed with that statement and the remaining 50 percent agreed with it to a certain extent.
Susan Neely, CAE, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association and chair of the ASAE Foundation Board, told us recently that listening is essential for strong leadership. “Listening is not only key to communicating, it’s critical to bringing people together and shaping good public policy.
Jeff De Cagna, chief strategist of Principled Innovation, told us last year that you need to have a balance of both personality types on your staff and on your board. “Introverts draw their energy from ideas and critical thinking. Extroverts generate their energy from people. The 21st century [association] leader will have a skill set that is based on collaboration, listening and nurturing, rather than command and control,” he said.
When it comes to adapting to change, Susan Cain, best-selling author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, said it’s important to understand that the introverts on your team aren’t “lesser contributors or less successful in social interaction.” Instead, they process knowledge and interact with their surroundings in a quieter way. “They tend to be passionate, but somewhat shy and value periods of solitude, which allow them to be [optimally] creative,” she said.
So raise your hand. Defend your ideas. The best ones, not the loudest, will win more and more in 2015.