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.