Leadership for introverts.

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The Top 5 Introvert Leadership Challenges (and How to Beat Them)

The gist: Most introverts face these five challenges on the journey to build their leadership skills. Each one can be overcome with a unique approach.


Giving a singular voice to a group of people is hard work. Finding the little things that make people tick and motivating them toward a common goal is equally difficult. Those are big leadership challenges.

If you’re an introvert with big ideas, you must be up to the task. Your natural, introverted skills will propel you and your team forward, but you’ll also struggle with some fundamental challenges that keep you from stepping into a leadership role in the first place.

We’re always on the lookout for new research and ideas to help you capitalize on your natural strengths and succeed as an introverted leader.

Recently, we asked our readers, “What’s the #1 thing that holds you back from taking on more leadership roles?” From the hundreds of responses, we were able to categorize them into five primary roadblocks:

  1. Self-doubt. You’re unsure of your own leadership skills.
  2. Trouble being perceived as a leader. You may be confident, but others don’t see you as their leader.
  3. A lack of leadership skills. You know you don’t have the skills you need, and you’re not sure how to get them.
  4. Feeling inauthentic. You hesitate to lead because it doesn’t feel natural.
  5. No time / energy to lead. You’re already doing too much and you’re too tired to take on the responsibility.

If any of those answers sound familiar to you, then keep reading. We’ve assembled a complete guide to recognizing and fixing each of these roadblocks to leadership in yourself.

The world needs more introverted leaders, and you can become one of them—quietly affecting the lives of those around you for the better.

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9 Opportunities to Seize During These Difficult Times

The gist: When the world is in turmoil, opportunities for a better future are all around. To seize them, you must control your anxiety.


If you’re thinking, “The last thing I need right now is another article explaining the coronavirus” then I have good news for you.

This is a message about the coronavirus, but not anything like the 500+ others you’ve read telling you how afraid to be or not to be and how to protect yourself, etc. That shall be left to the medical experts.

Instead, this message is about how to rise above the global panic and seize the opportunities that exist all around you. Because there are many.

Multiple worldwide problems have collided to create a kind of perfect storm of anxiety for most, but I’d like to challenge you to think a little differently. A little more positively.

It’s not wrong to be worried in times like these. Take the actions you believe necessary to protect yourself and those around you.

But also realize that every time normalcy is disrupted, there are vast opportunities to capitalize on.

There are too many to list, but here are a few that a driven introvert like you can choose from to improve your life, career, and finances.

Pick one or two that look good to you and get to work.

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From Low Self-Esteem to President: A Lesson On Overcoming Self-Doubt

The gist: Low self-esteem can grip all of us. And feeling self-doubt is part of being human. Understanding your psychology can help you overcome it.


In 1911, a young man by the name of Harry was struggling with low self-esteem. He’d met a woman, Bessie, and they became friends. Before he knew it, he’d fallen in love. There was a problem, though. Harry didn’t know if Bessie felt the same way, and his self-doubt was tearing him apart.

While away from home, he wrote her a seven page letter filled with passage like this:

Speaking of diamonds, would you wear a solitaire on your left hand should I get it? Now that is a rather personal or pointed question provided you take it for all it means. You know, were I an Italian or a poet I would commence and use all the luscious language of two continents. I am not either but only a kind of good-for-nothing American farmer. I always had a sneaking notion that some day maybe I’d amount to something. I doubt it now though like everything.

But I never had the nerve to think you’d even look at me. I don’t think so now but I can’t keep from telling you what I think of you.

Say, Bessie, you’ll at least let me keep on being good friends won’t you? I know I am not good enough to be anything more but you don’t know how I’d like to be.

Still if you turn me down, I’ll not be thoroughly disappointed for it’s no more than I expect.1

Harry, it seems, was no master of seduction.

In time, though, he must have built an effective tool for dealing with his crushing self-doubt because he did eventually marry Bessie, and today he’s more widely known as President Truman, the man ultimately responsible for ending World War II.

How did he overcome his crippling self-doubt? A key quote from his time in office and notes from cognitive psychologists give us a hint. Continue…

Footnotes

  1. Archived at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum.

Lower Your Serotonin to Lower Your Social Anxiety

The gist: Serotonin can treat all kinds of psychological issues, but research suggests people who suffer from social anxiety actually need less of it.


You’re hardly alone if you’d describe yourself as “socially anxious.” Almost 5% of people suffer from some form of it. That doesn’t seem like a big number but, when you consider the whole world, that’s 350 million people.

You go to a party and freeze because everyone is looking at you. In meetings, you hope no one asks a question because you’re certain whatever you say will be wrong.

Maybe you avoid close relationships because you can’t stand the idea of sharing personal details with someone else. What will they think when they find out you aren’t perfect?

If that describes you, chances are you’ve known it for a long time. Most people realize they’re socially anxious in their early teens.

And if you’ve ever talked to a doctor about it, you’ve probably gotten the same advice: you need more serotonin. Maybe you’ve even been prescribed a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI).

Serotonin is a complex chemical, but the treatment is simple: more serotonin fixes all kinds of psychological problems, so why not anxiety, too?

Recent research from Uppsala University in Sweden1, though, uncovered exactly the opposite. If you’re struggling with social anxiety, they found, you may actually have too much serotonin flowing through your brain.

This is a potentially huge revelation if you struggle with social anxiety. Here’s what the researchers found, and the things you can do now to act on those findings and reduce your social anxiety. Continue…

Footnotes

  1. Original reporting from Uppsala University on this research over here.

Afraid To Quit Your Job? Decades Of Research Says You Should Do It Anyway

So, you’re standing in line at the grocery store. You weren’t paying attention, though, and now you see the cart ahead of you has about 1,000 groceries in it, and the person pushing it is an older woman getting out her checkbook.

You think to yourself, “Damn, did I make the right choice?” There’s still time to switch if you want. All the lines look busy, but one of them—a few aisles down—looks pretty good. But what if it slows down as soon as you get there? Should you switch?

Let’s try again. You’ve been at your job for a few years, and you haven’t gotten the raises you expect. The economy has been slow, so prospect’s don’t look great anywhere, but you have an opportunity at another company if you want to try your luck. Should you make the leap?

If you’re the type of person who thinks, “No, I’ve made my decision—I’ll trust my gut and stick it out,” you’ll be not so pleased to know you probably made the wrong choice.

Keep reading to learn why changing your mind is statistically proven to be a better option. Continue…

26 Insecurity Signals and the Simple Behavior Changes to Fix Them

The gist: We all have nervous habits we display in uncomfortable situations that make us look weak. Once you recognize yours, they’re surprisingly easy to correct.


We all have lots of insecure behaviors we put on display every day. Whether it’s pulling on your shirt collar like I do, avoiding eye contact, or something else, your nervous habits scream to others that you’re feeling anxious.

The problem with nervous habits is that they show that you’re not confident in what you’re saying, which means other people won’t be either. When this happens, you undermine your own words.

Here’s an example of this in action from a conversation between my wife and I:

Me: I’m sure it will work out perfectly.
Her: No you aren’t.

We’re discussing some potential hiccups in our upcoming travel plans. I made a mistake with our booking, and I’m trying to reassure her it’s no big deal. She’s not buying it.

Me: How can you say that? You don’t believe me?
Her: Nope.
Me: Why not?
Her: You’re pulling on your collar.

Rubbing my shirt collar is my primary “nervous habit.” My wife can spot the smallest display of it the way a master poker player can instantly tell if you have a great hand or not.

I wasn’t lying. I did think everything was going to be okay. But I wasn’t certain of it. More like… 80%. That minor difference caused me some anxiety and I was displaying it by rubbing my shirt collar.

If you’ve ever encountered a situation where you felt weak, nervous, or insecure but wanted to appear strong and confident, learning to manage your nervous habits is a critical part of the equation.

Here’s your cheatsheet for looking confident and in control when you’re feeling exactly the opposite on the inside.

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The Psychology of Dressing Well (And Why You Must To Get Anywhere In Life)

I used to be a sloppy dresser. I never liked that I had to dress a certain way to get the respect I thought I deserved or to get people to listen to me.

“What a sham!” I would tell myself. “People should respect me because I know what I’m talking about, not because I’m wearing expensive socks.”

But then I experienced something that changed my mind completely.

Years ago, I was on the bus headed to a friend’s house. I knew the neighborhood but wasn’t sure which stop to get off at.

The gentleman sitting next to me noticed me looking out the window every few seconds trying to get my bearings and asked if I needed help. I told him my predicament, and he confidently told me I should exit in two stops.

I thanked him for the advice.

A moment later, another man standing in the aisle who’d heard my conversation leaned in and said, “Actually, you should get off at the next stop.”

I thanked him, hopped up, and exited just like he told me to, ignoring the advice of the first guy.

What was the difference between the two men? And why did I choose to listen to one and not the other? I asked myself the same question as I walked the last few blocks to my friend’s place. Read on for the answer.

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Effectively Lead The Charge To A Culture Of Innovation

The gist: Recent trends in Learning & Development (L&D) training have illustrated how leaders are building and driving cultures of innovation for their businesses with L&D. Conversations with practicing training professionals illustrate some simple but effective leadership and L&D strategies to lead the charge towards innovation.


Innovation is an omnipresent reality of operating a business, (or even just having a job) in today’s fiercely competitive and rapidly globalizing business market. On a daily basis, other businesses, employees, and competitors are constantly coming up with new ideas that seem to strip yesterday’s innovation of all its greatness.

In your capacity as a leader, driving a culture of innovation may seem like a nearly impossible task. The swift, ruthless and global nature of business is an overwhelming challenge to overcome at first glance, but accepting that facing worldwide competition is the new normal is an effective first step to stop vying for, and start maximizing your business’ competitive edge.

Recent research from a 2019 L&D Report indicates that organizations and leaders across industries are taking advantage of the many benefits of L&D training to drive cultures of innovation forward for their businesses with simple yet effective training strategies.

Using L&D training to create safe spaces for ideation, embrace diversity, and implement agile training are all straightforward tactics that you can employ in order to manage your team towards a culture of innovation and maintain your competitive advantage over the long term. Continue…

The Habit Ladder: How To Make A New Routine Stick

When one good habit triggers another, the speed of success doubles.

I can hardly remember what my mornings look like these days. It’s taken years and much trial and error, but I have a routine now that needs no thought to be completed. Each action, all morning long, is pre-scripted, memorized, and controlled by habit.

I wake up and put my running clothes on. A 5-mile run leads to a shower, breakfast, and then my most important task of the day.

The same thing happens, like clockwork, every… single… day.

What I—and many others, perhaps yourself—have constructed is what I like to call a habit ladder—an automatic system that quickly transforms you from a heap of unconsciousness to a productive human being.

A morning routine is just one example of a habit ladder, though. The same concept can be applied across every aspect of your life to make the important actions you want to take quick and painless. And the trick isn’t so much in what you do, but the order you do them in.

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Superhero Leadership: 3 Lessons From Marvel Comics’ Unlikely Success

The gist: If you want to become successful, there are three important leadership lessons from Marvel’s story that will help you become a superhero leader.


Like his superheroes who rush into danger and defy the odds to save the day, the creator of Marvel, Martin Goodman, is a leader who understands the importance of taking risks.

After a few jobs and mild success in the publishing industry, Martin decided to start his own company. Since superhero characters were becoming popular, he made an enormous bet. He hired a company to develop a super hero comic book and printed a million copies. His first comic and he was already betting the company on it.

If they called him crazy, it wasn’t for long. Martin worked hard to develop his leadership and intuition for products that could go big, and he knew he had a hit when his writers delivered the star character in his new magazine: The Human Torch.

If this story is starting to sound familiar but you can’t quite place it, The Human Torch went on to become a founding member of The Fantastic Four—one of the longest lasting and most recognizable comic brands in history.1

If Martin’s story teaches us anything, it’s that, if you want to know how it feels to create something great, you must also know how it feels to go out on a limb and stand at the brink of failure.

If you want to ride that wave and experience it yourself, there are three important leadership lessons and rules for success from the Marvel story.

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Footnotes

  1. Interestingly, Martin was initially hired by Louis Silberkleit—the guy who would go on to create Archie Comics which was one of Martin’s future competitors.