Pat Wadors, Head of Talent for LinkedIn, in her article “I’m an introverted executive in Silicon Valley – how the heck did that happen?!” revealed how her boss refused to believe she was an introvert despite being sure she was. He was surprised she engaged her duties (that requires intense networking) in her workplace effectively despite having an introverted personality. Her ability to effectively carry on with her duty in her office without the stereotype of being a solitude-loving person in her competitive workplace spoke of how possible it is to remain relevant at one’s workplace despite being introverted.
Office politics is an inevitable feature of every work environment. It can make or mar your potential and future in your workplace.
There are untrue claims that for you to strive and be relevant in a contemporary workplace, you must be an extrovert, one who loves to bask in the attention he/she gets. Although most workplaces are deficient in giving everyone equal opportunity to strive, however, every person can strive in the best environment – even introverts. According to Susan Cain, author and introversion expert, “Everyone shines, given the right lighting.”
It is bad enough that many realities about introverts have been misconstrued by those who are oblivious of the reality of introversion. The misconceived notion that introverts are not born leaders is disheartening and needs correction. It is also worrisome that most work environments are arranged to favor their loud counterparts. To get the best out of these arrangements as an introvert, you must do the following.
Build Your Confidence:
One thing that usually discredits some introverts at the workplace is their lack of confidence in themselves and their abilities. They are seen as unformidable because they fumble on a subject they might actually be very good at. It’s important as an introvert to work on your self-confidence.
Sometimes, all you need to build your confidence is to read books, take courses or speak to a mentor/coach who can put you through. It’s also advisable to confide in your colleagues about your insecurities. Their encouragement will go a long way to boost your confidence. Most importantly, prepare adequately for presentations or tasks. Preparation, in most cases, breeds confidence. Expressing yourself thoroughly and truly shows to all that you know your onions.
Do What You Are Passionate About
One reality attributed to introverts is our incurable passion for a course, topic, craft or job. Introverts invest their time in things they are passionate about. This can be a huge advantage. As an introvert, your ability to focus on an idea or job can get you relevance. When your boss knows that you can deliver in an aspect, he will acknowledge you and see you as an authority. Never attempt to take up a task or a job you are not passionate about.
My ability to stay focused on my writing has helped me stay ahead in my workplace. I love David Williams quote on this topic: “The truth, however, is that introverts won’t speak unless they have something important to say and or are deeply passionate about a topic.”
Build Personal Relationships In and Out of Office
Personal relationships with colleagues, subordinates and customers is the key to winning in your workspace. All you need to build a relationship is empathy. Your ability to listen and help them achieve their goals can go a long way to help you build influence.
Wadors recommendation to introverted leaders is: “share your personal style and invite others to reach out to you as needed. Your job is to listen and be actively “present” when they engage with you.” This implies that you build influence when you are genuinely concerned about those that work with you.
Learn to Step out of Your Comfort Zone
Introverts love their comfort zone. We live in their heads and we love our solitude. However, the workplace is out to challenge our comfort. As an introvert, you can’t strive and compete in your comfort. Your work might require you to try new things. TJ Guttormsen, a psychologist and communication coach introduced us to the Growth Zone theory and the need for introverts to systematically leave their comfort zone for the growth zone.
“So, there’s the clue that propelled me forward. I love to teach, to lead, to make a difference. In order to achieve that goal, I have to stretch beyond my comfort zone and be “extroverted” in a sense. I have to find my voice, be heard and ensure that I am reaching the audience when appropriate. That takes energy.” Pat Wadors.
Learn From Others In Your Workplace (Have a Mentor):
Having a mentor or a senior colleague you look up to will go a long way to help you easily navigate your workspace. This person, who has years of experience ahead of you, will not only look out for you but also give you a clue of what you need to remain relevant in your workspace.
Show Dedication To Your Team:
Your ability to work for the success of your team will go a long way in proving your effectiveness in your work environment. Work, not primarily for your ambition but for the goals of your team. Be ready to share your knowledge, ideas and insight with members of your team. When you do so you build influence and relationships that can make you indispensable. If you have to, learn how to work with people on a project.
Learn To Blow Your Own Trumpet:
I know that it is quite tough as introverts to be in the limelight. This is what makes introverts different from extroverts. However, from time to time, you must be ready to let your boss and colleagues know what you achieved on a project. Be ready to take credit for your role in the team’s success. Personally, I update my profile with the list of what I helped my company achieve. Self-promotion proves to all that you can’t be taken for granted. Don’t let anyone rob you of the accolades you deserve.
Be Yourself Always:
You can only work effectively when you understand and know who ‘you’ are and what works for you. In other words, you need to embrace your innate power as an introvert. For instance, if you work in an open office, and you know this arrangement does affect your effectiveness, speak up about it. Let your boss find a solution to your challenge, or find a way to make your situation more bearable. Be yourself enough to let your colleague know you enough to discern your likes and dislikes.
“At the center of your being you have the answer, you know who you are and you know what you want”. Lao Tzu
Learn to observe:
Introverts’ superpower is the ability to observe things and people around them. This has helped me a lot to understand those I am working and competing with. Learn about the prevailing political realities in your office and know how to adapt to the complexities of the arrangement.
The ability of late South Africa’s president, Nelson Mandela, to observe, made him an admirable introverted leader. He said thus, in his book “Long walk to Freedom”,“I went as an observer, not a participant, for I do not think that I ever spoke. I wanted to understand the issues under discussion, evaluate the arguments, see the caliber of the men involved”.
Learn To Communicate:
While you learn how to observe, also learn how to communicate your ideas and thoughts. Learn to use the most effective medium to send your message to all. Wadors advised that you use Your Body language well, let people get a sense of you without you saying a word.
To know more about how to build influence and lead as an introvert, get my ebook titled “Quiet Leadership: 7 Principles to Influence People As An Introvert”