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Posts tagged ‘Emotional Intelligence’

extrovert – introvert

Silence is lyrical. Silence is energy. Silence is time: The space of time between the pulling back of the arrow in the bow and its release.

Or …

Teams are fun. Meetings and parties are energy. People are motion: The speeding motion between the arrow’s release and the explosive arrival at the target.

Not long ago in a hiring discussion, I overheard someone proclaim, “Of course the person we hire needs to be an extrovert.” I cringed. On the Myers-Briggs introvert – extrovert scale, I fall slightly toward the introvert side. Surprised? You’ll find me leading organization processes, delivering training, and speaking publicly.

The confusion arises from a misunderstanding of the scale. In the original Myers-Briggs’ definition, the introvert and extrovert get their energy from different places. Extroverts are energized by the outer world of people and action. Introverts gain energy from an inner world of ideas and concepts. The scale has nothing to do with whether people get along with others, are confident public speakers, or provide good leadership.

The fact that different types of experiences energize people is not a sound hiring metric. Opportunities and challenges exist across the extrovert – introvert scale. For example, research with groups at the University of California, Santa Cruz demonstrated that while extroverts talked more in the groups, they had a wide-range of topics and were “light-hearted.” The introverts talked less and focused on one or two  serious topics. The extroverts appreciated feeling understood by having someone actively listening. The introverts appreciated the relaxed ease of the conversation (Quiet, p. 238-239).

Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking describes the value of extroverts and introverts in organizations.  She offers ideas about using the strengths of both sides of the scale to build organizational effectiveness. Wherever you fall on the introvert – extrovert scale, one key is tuning into the energy of those around you. Adjust your communication patterns to meet them in their comfort zone and invite them into the conversation.

How does your organization work to embrace the strengths of extroverts and introverts? What does your preference on the scale mean in your life?

Susan Cain’s blog: The Power of Introverts
Susan Cain’s book: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
Related link forwarded to me by a friend: The Introverted Leader

Note: I followed Cain’s choice to use the word extrovert from the common usage, rather than the word extravert which is found in the research literature (Quiet, p. 271).

All the world’s a stage

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.
  – William Shakespeare

How many roles have you played already this week? Boss. Cook. Parent. Spouse. Manager. Friend. Janitor. Child. Clear roles and responsibilities keep business processes and families running smoothly. Yet the paradox is that rigid roles and rules can cause processes to collapse and malfunction under changing conditions. Keeping the roles and responsibilities simple permits flexibility and adaptability when needed.

Understanding and acting out our roles and responsibilities requires a personal commitment to behaving with social intelligence. The phrase “social intelligence” has become “business speak”. I will define it as first having a personal understanding of ones own values and philosophy coupled with empathy and compassion for others  along with the ability to communicate effectively and influence others.

In other words, each of us is more than the hats we wear in any given situation, more than the job title, more than a relationship. If we seek to know and act on our core values and philosophy or way of being in the world, we can participate more easily in all of the different roles life offers us. If all the world is a stage and we are the actors, perhaps the key, as the airline flight attendants say, is to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

Idea for reflection – 17

In reflecting on how we access our emotional and social intelligence, how we can gain wisdom – I point my readers to Garr Reynold’s post about lessons from the forest. Here you will find several ideas worthy of reflection on a summer weekend.

Idea for reflection – 16

Reflections on the World Cup

At our house these days, everyone is enjoying watching and talking about the World Cup Soccer tournament. This afternoon finds four teenage boys gathered around the TV and computer, eating pizza, watching the semi-final game, and throwing a miniature ball around the room. Even Ted, our Manx cat, enjoys getting in on the action.

Some random Organization Development observations about the World Cup:

  • Communication. Whether arranging a semi-final game party via text messaging or moving the ball down the field effectively, it won’t happen without engaging each other verbally and non-verbally.
  • Social and emotional intelligence. Being attuned and aware of those around you, building pride in accomplishments, sharing a common goal, coaching others – all come into play during a soccer match.
  • Preparation followed with flexibility and adaptability. Vince Lombardi said, “Only perfect practice makes perfect.” Yet, even with perfect practice, once on the field of play, flexibility and adaptability are what winning teams use to find a way to win.
  • Motivation. It’s not enough for the coach to want to win, each player has to want to win too. I witnessed some of the games where star players clearly weren’t finding the passion within themselves while the lower ranked team had members who gave their best energy and won the game.
  • Celebration. Cheering, shouting, and wearing the team colors are all ways of demonstrating support and providing instant feedback on how things are going. And yes, it’s more fun when you win!

Rosabeth Moss Kanter adds some thoughts on World Cup Leadership Lessons at her HBR blog. Her conclusion:

The lessons for leaders: Your job is to provide resources and support that build the confidence of players in themselves, each other, the team, and the excellence of the surrounding system. Ethics, fair play, mentoring, smooth transitions, continuity, and collaboration should not be luxuries or lip service; they create the margin of victory.

What organization development lessons have you discovered from the World Cup or other sports?

Leading through Empathy and Teaching

I’m excerpting a quote from Bob Sutton’s blog, Work Matters because it applies directly to my last several posts about feedback and how to promote learning, growth, and transformation. 

“Life is a lot better when [I] think about my job as one of helping everyone be good, helping everyone learn whatever they need, and teaching where I’ve got experience and expertise. When I think in terms of helping people learn to be even better, it automatically puts me into an empathetic mode (because teaching, fundamentally, is about understanding where the learner is coming from), and that sets up the interaction really well.  I can’t always stay in this teaching mode. Sometimes there are real pressures and things I need to deliver on.  Sometimes external stressors in my life cause me to forget to be empathetic. But usually now I can notice when it’s happening and correct it.”  

Read the entire post and comments here.

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