What do Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg and Rob Fyfe have in common? They're all visionaries, achievers and ... 'Quiet Influencers' - highly effective introverts who use their natural strengths to make a big difference without making a lot of noise.
According to author Jennifer Kahnweiler, who holds a doctorate in counselling and organisational development (and is an extrovert), in today's rapidly evolving workplace the introvert's time has come.
Extrovert-centric self-promotion and loud persuasion are no longer pre-requisites for success. Today, people who stand out from the crowd are those that have a knack for building up others and are committed to listening instead of talking.
Yet the reality is that introverts continue to be asked to adapt to an extrovert-centric workplace that rewards being 'out there' and 'in the spotlight'. Organisational cultures overwhelmingly support those who talk about their accomplishments, who spend more time out and about networking instead of alone deep in thought, and who make sure they are the first to get their ideas heard.
In her new book Quiet Influence: The Introvert's Guide to Making a Difference
, Kahnweiler demonstrates the importance of understanding, nurturing and tapping-into the world of quiet influencers and their strengths so we can understand ourselves more effectively, and connect and engage with others more meaningfully and successfully.
Understanding our "Quiet Influence Quotient" (QIQ), for example, can help us identify what introvert qualities we possess and what we can work on to become more effective in our work and life.
Consciously developing and amplifying six strengths often demonstrated by introverts can help both introverts and extroverts challenge the status quo, provoke new ways of thinking, effect change and continuously inspire others to move forward. These six strengths are:
Take quiet time: Introverts prioritise periods of solitude that provides them with a powerful source of creativity and self-awareness
Preparation: Introverts increase their confidence to influence others by increasing their knowledge, creating a strategy and rehearsing
Listening: This innate introvert talent helps Quiet Influencers establish rapport and mutual understanding - especially when they observe body language, ask questions and serve as a sounding-board for others
Focused conversations: Introverts excel at the serious, purpose-driven, one-on-one or small group interactions vital for problem-solving, working through conflicts, and winning people over
Writing: Introverts use this skill to influence others through deep, authentic, well-developed arguments that motivate others to action
Thoughtful use of social media: Introverts naturally use social media in a thoughtful and more effective way to develop and grow relationships, achieve visibility, and mobilise people - even those far across the globe
If you're an extrovert, actively embracing, developing and supporting key introvert behaviours will help you develop heightened sensibilities, tap into a wider range of possible contributors, supporters and solutions, and increase your ability to influence all kinds of people and situations. If you're an introvert, there's never been a better time to claim your space and actively demonstrate the value and benefits your quiet influence brings.
In either case, why not take a walk on the quiet side and be the new face of business?