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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking Book Cover
Book (with additional video)
Susan Cain
Recommended by: Joel Walters, Director, Department of Revenue
Additional Video
Title: The Power of Introverts - Susan Cain
Date: March 2, 2012

1) What is your suggestion about?

Quiet challenges us to think differently about what makes a great leader. Susan Cain chronicles the development of the “extrovert ideal”. Our culture has come to consider charismatic leadership the aspirational leadership style, and the emergence of brainstorming and real time collaboration the ideal approach to problem solving. Cain explains that, despite this now well-engrained view, introverts bring great leadership and problem-solving skills to the table.

2) Why did you choose it? 

As an extreme introvert myself, this book was deeply inspiring to me and I believe will be for other introverts. The book provides many examples of leaders I admire making enormous differences in their teams and their communities through quiet, value-based impact. Also importantly, it reminds us all that a variety of leadership and problem-solving styles can and should be leveraged to deliver truly great results.

3) What else do you want to tell us about it? 

Three overarching takeaways resonated with me.

First, while our culture has developed a presumption that extroverts are superior leaders, introverts can not only add enormous value to a team, they can be great leaders, albeit in a different way than extroverts. 

Second, when individuals understand themselves better, they can get the best out of their natural tendencies. They can also develop techniques to operate outside of those natural tendencies when it will be more impactful in a particular circumstance. 

Third, this is yet another important component of diversity in the workplace. We tend to think of diversity in gender and ethnicity, but diversity of thinking, leading, problem-solving, etc. are worth our consideration as well. Building out a team that does these things in as many ways as possible can greatly enhance the team’s success. However, it requires valuing that diversity enough to create environments where the best of each individual can come to the surface.

Susan Cain also has a Ted Talk video where she describes the power of introverts that has been viewed over 19 million times.

4) What is a key takeaway for leaders driving improvement in how we deliver for the citizens of Missouri?

In the end, this book is about how we can all be great leaders in our own way. We can use an understanding of ourselves to enhance our impact using our own individual tendencies, but also to move out of our natural styles when appropriate. As we do that, we should look to create diversity in our teams, accommodate the differences of the individuals on our team, and use these insights to create environments where everyone can prosper.

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  • Rita Summers, Department of Health and Senior Services
  • June 6, 2018 10:27 am
  • I am truly excited to read this book. The review really caught my attention because I feel there is just so much noise in the world today - everyone wants their voice to be heard, but it feels like no one listens. Being a good listener did not come to me naturally, but after a great training session offered at work several years ago, I recognized the need to develop my skills and I'm so glad I did. I've learned some very valuable life lessons just by listening. We would all be better for appreciating the varied skills different individuals bring to a situation or project.
  • Sophia Brothers, Department of Social Services
  • June 6, 2018 10:32 am
  • I am really pleased to see this topic in the Leadership Library. Just a month ago, when I expressed an interest in becoming a supervisor in our office, I was told that I was too "quiet". I was told that there is a certain personality that is wanted. Well, that's certainly not diversity nor equal opportunity. I think the abilities and strengths of an introvert are understated and under valued. Diverse personalities is the real world and in management there should be no exception. I will continue to pursue my goal. I know my capabilities and I know that I do NOT have to be like Sally, Sue and Sam to succeed.
  • TraMondre Hamilton, Department of Social Services
  • June 6, 2018 10:45 am
  • I thought this video was thought provoking and informative.
  • Johanna Appel, Department of Social Services
  • June 6, 2018 10:59 am
  • Good morning, I have not read "Quiet" yet but after reading the comments left by Joel Walters, I plan to. Also, I wanted to share an experience that was shared with me when I first started working for DSS. It is exactly why we need to read this book. An individual, who is an introvert, was put on the spot during a group meeting. She had explained prior to the meeting that she felt uncomfortable speaking, to the point of panic and did not want to be called out in the meeting. This woman has incredible work ethics, attitude and experience but her introversion was seen as an unwillingness to participate rather than a preference. She panicked during the meeting, became embarrassed and upset. She struggled speaking and felt tears at her eyes. This woman is intelligent and has no issues talking one on one. She is introverted, not disinclined. There is a clear difference between helping someone grow as an individual and forcing them to do something simply because you think they should. From what I have read about "Quiet," it discusses understanding the benefits of building on strengths and I can't wait to read it!
  • Roylene Kempf, Department of Corrections
  • June 6, 2018 1:19 pm
  • I enjoyed and gain a different perspective about the nature of introverts (and extroverts). I identify more with being an introvert so I found this speaker and author enlightening with comments and knowledge.
  • Charmagne Schneider, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
  • June 6, 2018 2:16 pm
  • Thank you for this suggestion. Although not a manager, I often struggle with the feeling that I'm too introverted to make valuable contributions - whether in the workplace or in other areas. I definitely will order this book to read.
  • Hazel Jones, Department of Labor and Industrial Relations
  • June 7, 2018 10:16 am
  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I plan to read this book. My self-talk often includes "I should be more "this"." or "I should be more "that".", when it comes to being in a crowd. I love observing, learning and taking my time to think things through before acting or speaking. This topic just reinforces the fact that it's okay to be who I am, no matter where I am or who I'm with. I'm me and that's okay. However, I can (and should) share what's inside of me when the need arises, especially when it will help someone.
  • David Clark, Department of Social Services
  • June 11, 2018 7:30 am
  • it's a step in the right direction