The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD
Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2018
Reviewed by Johny Van Aerde, MD, PhD
Our workplace cultures are skewed toward extroverts, but The Introverted Leader has practical tips on how to lead as an introvert. The typical characteristics that are the strength of an introvert — listening, preparation, and calmness — also happen to be great qualities of leaders in general.
Kahnweiler presents her theory in the first two chapters of this book. Chapter one describes the six key challenges for introverts: people exhaustion, fast pace, interruptions, pressures to self-promote, emphasis on teams, and projecting negative impressions of being disengaged simply because introverts often think more and speak less.
Chapter two introduces the reader to the four Ps that comprise an introvert’s strategy: prepare, presence, push, and practise. Step one, preparation, includes working on a game plan. Careful planning fits with the introvert’s style and gives him or her confidence to handle situations as they occur. It might mean understanding your team and its members, knowing yourself, or creating the appropriate environment. Presence means being focused on the present moment in a way that allows you to be with people. It includes listening, paying attention, and flexing your style. Push, the third step, is likely to put the introvert outside their normal comfort zone as it means taking action with others. The last step involves practising and simulating new behaviours in a supportive environment.
After a set of questions to determine your introverted leadership skills in chapter three, the rest of the book offers practical tips on how to apply the four Ps and lead well in common situations, including leading projects, delivering powerful presentations, and leading meetings.
Although this book focuses on an important aspect of personality, it does not deal with any of the other characteristics that make up the richness of our personality and add to diversity of our behaviour as a leader, as an individual, and as a team member.
Johny Van Aerde, MD, MA, PhD, FRCPC, is editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Physician Leadership and a former president of the Canadian Society of Physician Leaders.