In the American Culture, leadership is often equated with hyperextroversion and an emphasis is placed on personality, charm, and charisma.
On one hand, people feel a constant urge to fit into the extroversion mould, to develop an extroverted personality and feel pressured to always project confidence.
On the other, introverts have become the ugly step-children.
Basically, the American Culture promotes an Extrovert Ideal when several temperaments exist, are valuable and needed in Society.
Many “people, especially those in leadership roles, engage in a certain level of pretend-extroversion”.
1. The birth of the Extrovert Ideal
The Extrovert Ideal is “the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight”.
The Extrovert Ideal was born when public speaking became a must have skill in the beginning of the 20th century.
The American Culture swiftly shifted from a Culture of Character to a Culture of Personality.
Hence, people started focusing on the way they presented themselves, on making a good first impression, on appearance, on selling themselves well all the time.
They then transformed themselves into personae, performers, sales men and women and became fascinated with movie stars.
2. The Introverted temperament
Extroversion and introversion are extreme temperaments that are said to be inherited.
Most people exhibit behaviors along that spectrum depending on the circumstances: no one is fully an introvert or an extrovert all the time.
The most common misconception about these temperaments is that introverts are antisocial and extroverts are pro social.
The reality is that introverts are quickly overly stimulated, the said stimulation is exhausting and that they need downtime to recharge from socializing.
Furthermore, introverts are creative, tend to work alone, to value solitude because “solitude can be a catalyst to innovation“; it is vital to their creativity and allows them to deliberately practice.
At their core, introverts observe society rather than participate in society because participating requires too much mental multitasking.
In addition, they:
- are highly reactive,
- are listeners more than talkers,
- ask questions like “What if?”,
- rather quality over quantity,
- avoid conflict most of the time,
- avoid group activities,
- are non competitive,
- “welcome the chance to communicate digitally”.
Even with opposite temperaments, introverts and extroverts are often drawn to each other and get along.
The Introvert Success
Should they act out of character or stretch themselves in order to be who they want to be? Can introverts succeed without altering themselves?
Most introverts know how to act out of character and fake extroversion to some extent.
Some introverts fake extroversion to survive, to fit in and succeed.
Others have fooled themselves into thinking that they are extroverts, have taken on a role that is expected of them or their job, feel obliged to serve up a persona.
The truth is that introverts can act out of character rather convincingly, should act out of character if it is vital or if they are deeply attached to their objectives but cannot and shouldn’t act out for too long. Acting out of character for too long can result in burnout and health problems.
To succeed without altering themselves, some introverts focus on core personal projects that are important to them.
To identify their core personal projects, introverts:
- Think about what they wanted to be when they were children.
- Assess the type of work they generally gravitate to.
- Observe the people and things that they envy.
Furthermore, introverts understand that certain social situations can be intimidating.
Therefore, in order to remain calm and confident, they adopt the same behavior and facial expression as if you were calm and confident.
They also take regular breaks alone where they need to restore, recharge and be themselves.
Introverts may have to cut an agreement with themselves: they socialize and act out of character as much as they want to or as much as they are comfortable to just as long as they take the time to recharge.
In Quiet : The Power Of Introverts In A World That Cant Stop Talking, in an almost autobiographic writing style, Susan Cain puts a positive spin on the term “quiet”, reflects on the place of introversion in the American society and seeks to understand the Extrovert Ideal.
Susan Cain objectively describes her personal experience as an introvert and adopts a scientific approach to depicting the difference between introversion and extroversion.
In The American and Western society, there is an obsession and an urge to develop an extroverted personality.
Indeed, leadership is often equated to hyperextroversion and most of our institutions are organized to favor extroversion, value open spaces, transparency, team-work, and competition to the detriment of quiet leadership, creativity, solitude, alone time, introversion are not well seen
So throughout her research and her journey of self-discovery, Susan Cain goes through her own experience, childhood memories to find explanation and insights into her introversion and answers the following questions: Should introverts alter themselves to succeed? To what degree should they stretch themselves?
The answer lies somewhere between you can act out but you shouldn’t act out for too long.
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Yet today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We’re told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable. We see ourselves as a nation of extroverts—which means that we’ve lost sight of who we really are.
We live with a value system that I call the Extrovert Ideal—the omnipresent belief that the ideal self is gregarious, alpha, and comfortable in the spotlight. The archetypal extrovert prefers action to contemplation, risktaking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt. He favors quick decisions, even at the risk of being wrong. […] We like to think that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual—the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” […]
Introversion—along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness—is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology. Introverts living under the Extrovert Ideal are like women in a man’s world, discounted because of a trait that goes to the core of who they are. Extroversion is an enormously appealing personality style, but we’ve turned it into an oppressive standard to which most of us feel we must conform.
‘Here everyone knows that it’s important to be an extrovert and troublesome to be an introvert. So people work real hard at looking like extroverts, whether that’s comfortable or not. It’s like making sure you drink the same single-malt scotch the CEO drinks and that you work out at the right health club.’
They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinking twice. The same person who finds it difficult to introduce himself to strangers might establish a presence online and then extend these relationships into the real world.
introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly
many people, especially those in leadership roles, engage in a certain level of pretend-extroversion.
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Work is an integral part of life: we spend most of our waking hours at work more than anything else.
Lack of work-life balance has direct repercussions on our health, finances and families, creates fatigue, poor judgement, and poor performance.
Creating work-life balance means that you are satisfied with your contributions to your life and work, that you are able to create a sustainable synergy between both, and that you are fueled by them on a daily basis.
Wondering what you can do to create a healthy work-life balance?
1. Take care of yourself
In order to manage a healthy work life balance, you have to put yourself first, value your health and well-being, and boost your leadership self-esteem from time to time.
It is cliché but it is true: when you fly on airplane, you must put your mask on first before assisting others.
2. Be clear about your purpose
A healthy work-life balance can be motivated by life changing events or by a desire to do better.
It helps to identify the reasons why you are working, and to establish a personal mission statement.
Then, you can set specific goals for yourself to increase motivation, to build up confidence and to stay focused.
3. Assess your strengths and weaknesses
Assessing your strengths and weaknesses is a great way to figure out where and how to apply them, to know when and how to say no and to get the most out of your work day.
If your aren’t applying your strengths and interests at work, find areas outside of work to do so.
4. Be mindful of your core habits
Implementing a successful work-life balance can be overwhelming at first but it makes sense in the long run.
You can start by:
- Challenging your core habits and deal with change one at a time.
- Prioritizing what matters most, avoid multitasking, pay attention to the vital few, keep your life simple and don’t be afraid of missing out.
- Being more disciplined. In order to make your life worthwhile, avoid distractions. This means that you have to shut down your phones, your television and avoid checking your emails outside of work.
5. Get rid of stressors and useless activities
Some activities are useless when they don’t align with your values and principles.
Others create more stress than expected or wanted.
It becomes detrimental to identify these stressors, the things that fulfill you the most and those that don’t. What activities engage you the most?
6. Manage your time effectively
A healthy work-life balance involves wise time management, self-discipline, and creates a better quantity to quality ratio.
If you are allowed flexible hours or remote working, put the power of internet to good use and work from home.
Employees working from home are more productive, have reduced commuting time, have less stress, are not constantly bothered by events in the office.
Remote working also allows the organization to save money on energy consumption and office space.
7. Learn to fully disconnect
During the day, clear out at least one hour to relax and empty out your mind through meditation or by exercising.
After work, learn to disconnect, leave work for the workplace and concentrate on your family and friends when you are with them.
Dedicate more hours to sleep. Sleep is a cure for many diseases. It helps to eliminate bad toxins, to increase your focus and your job performance.
Furthermore, promote well-being in the workplace and take vacations.
Last Words Of Advice!
Finally, give yourself the space and the time to explore new things and to see what works for you.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
Don’t forget to like, share and leave a comment below.
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