Five Ways That Introverts Make Good Leaders

Jennifer Kahnweiler dispels the myth that introverts are at a disadvantage in leadership roles. If anything, Jennifer argues, introverts have special skills that actually make them very good leaders. Consider the five ways introverted leaders tend to:

1. Think first, talk later. Introverted leaders think before they speak. Even in casual conversation, they consider others’ comments carefully, and stop and reflect before responding. Their tendency to be more measured with words is a major asset in today’s recession, when no leader can afford to make a costly gaffe.

2. Focus on depth. Introverted leaders seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep—delving into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. They are drawn to meaningful conversations—not superficial chit-chat—and know how to ask great questions and really listen to people’s answers.

3. Exude calm. Introverted leaders are low-key. In times of crisis, they project a reassuring, calm confidence—think President Obama—and regardless of the heat of the conversation or circumstances, speak softly and slowly.

4. Let their fingers do the talking. Introverted leaders prefer writing to talking. They opt for e-mail over the telephone and meet face-to-face only when necessary. Today, their comfort with the written word helps them better leverage online social networking tools such as Twitter—creating new opportunities
to be “out there” with employees as they deal with uncertainty and fear.

5. Embrace solitude. Introverted leaders are energized by spending time alone. Sufferers of people exhaustion, they frequently need to retreat to recharge their batteries. These regular timeouts fuel their thinking, creativity, and decision-making, and when the pressure is on, help them be responsive— not reactive.

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts? Chime in below.

Five Reasons for Not Apologizing

John Kador's new book focuses on the power of effective apology. John does want to warn you, however, that sometimes issuing an apology is not the right thing to do. Here are five situations where an apology may do more damage than good:

1. When an apology would cause harm.
Delayed apologies—apologies for an event that occurred long ago—are risky. The victim may welcome an apology even after years or decades. Or the apology may revictimize the victim. Here’s the test: if you conclude that your apology is guided more by redemption for yourself than compassion for the victim, then let a direct apology go. Deal with your issues in confession or therapy.

2. When it’s likely that you will repeat the offending behavior.
Be honest. If you can’t commit to ending the offending conduct, then an apology is just another excuse.

3. When you’re not prepared to provide restitution.
You can’t talk your way out of a situation you acted your way into. If you borrowed your friend’s car and got a parking ticket, then you have to pay the fine as the central part of the apology. If you can’t afford to do that, then you can’t afford the apology.

4. When the offense hasn’t happened yet.

Apologizing in advance is bogus. The very essence of apology supposes accepting responsibility for an event that has already taken place, expressing regret that it happened, and promising not to repeat the behavior. Apology is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. To suggest that a proposed behavior is less regrettable if you pre-apologize for it and then do it anyway is just moral laziness.

5. When someone else is responsible for the offense.

It’s meaningless for you to apologize for, say, the excesses of The Crusades. You weren’t there. In technical terms you have no standing to apologize. By the same token, if the party who should apologize refuses to do, you can’t do so on their behalf. What if the offender works for you? You can certainly apologize for your own carelessness (deficiencies in hiring or supervision, for example), but one adult cannot apologize on behalf of another adult.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Want to say something? Say it below.


Five Ways Our Culture Doesn’t Look at Issues in Terms of the Long Run

The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Schuler serves as the Parish Minister of the First Unitarian Society of Madison. During his 17-year tenure, the Society has grown rapidly to over 1300 adult members and approximately 200 active affiliates; 450 children are registered for Church School and youth activities. In his book, he discusses how and why our culture is obsessed with material gain and instant gratification and how this will do a tremendous amount of damage to our planet and our communities. here are five places where our culture seems so focused on the quick returns that it doesn't take into account the long-term damage:

1. Encouraging the rapid depletion of the planet's natural capital by externalizing those costs, thus keeping the price of commodities artificially low.

2. Allowing poorly-conceived "cookie-cutter" development proposals to undercut efforts to preserve and protect the most unique an livable qualities of our towns and cities.

3. Failing to consistently emphasize the personal and social benefits provided by enduring personal friendships and partnerships.

4. Seducing individuals and institutions into "get rich quick" schemes rather than promote a sustainable and ultimately more prudent approach to financial planning.

5. Successfully creating a near-universal craving for nutritionally deficient and environmentally toxic fast- and convenience foods.

Any thoughts, responses, or arguments? Chime in below.

The Four Ways You Can Waste Your Employee Recognition Budget

At some point or another you’ve been ‘rewarded’ for your hard work with only a t-shirt or some other form of recognition that just didn’t cut it. Cindy Ventrice has made it her life's work to educate managers about how to build real recognition programs that notice and value employee contributions. Here are five common types of recognition that still tend to be used despite having no positive effect:

1. Employee of the Month Awards –For most people, Employee of the Month is the first program that comes to mind when they think employee recognition. It is also the type of program that is most likely to be a supreme failure. Why? Generally, employee reaction is one of three: “Why did they pick her?” “It figures, since he is the bosses pet,” or “Who’s turn is it this month?”

2. Bonuses/Incentives – Bonuses and incentives get misclassified as recognition, but they are compensation. If you expect bonuses to change the level of satisfaction with recognition, you will be disappointed.

3. Trinkets – T-shirts, mugs, pens with the company logo, your employees have figured out that these are advertising, not recognition. You can turn a trinket into effective recognition. Provide a specific, sincere message along with the trinket and it becomes an example of meaningful recognition.

4. Gift Cards and Catalogues – There is a whole recognition industry built around gift cards and catalogues of merchandise, and they are definitely popular. Yet most of these awards end up being perceived more as compensation than recognition. Again, it comes down to the message that is attached to the award.

Meaningful recognition is always about the message. When you have the budget, awards are fine—if you remember to make them tangible reminders of something positive.

Do you agree? Disagree? Have other examples of recognition that are basically useless? Write in your comments below.

Ten Words to Help You Care for Your Soul (and Those of Others)

More than a decade of working with others who are suffering or in pain took its toll on Laura, just as it has taken its toll on anyone who has worked in the social service field for an extended period of time. How do you keep from internalizing all the pain and suffering when you are exposed to it daily? Laura finally figured it out, which is why you should read her book. In the meantime, here are Laura's ten words of advice (organized into three short mantras) to keep in mind to carry your soul through the journey ahead:

1. Be Conscious - A lack of consciousness, awareness, and presence accounts for much of the pain, struggle, and hardship the world currently faces. By remaining conscious of our speech, manner, and conduct at all times (or as frequently as we can...), we create positive social and environmental change. At the very least, we do less harm to ourselves or others and, at most, we contribute to the health and well being of others, ourselves, and our planet.

2. Sustain Yourself - We have an ethical obligation to sustain ourselves before we work to sustain others or the planet. Only through caring for ourselves - mind, body, spirit - are we going to have the energy and clarity to keep doing our best, day in and day out - for the long haul. If you don't have your own A game, you won't have it for others.

3. Contribute Wise to the World's Needs - Think about what the world needs right now, and then consider how your daily intentions relate to that need and merge the two. Ask yourself, "what do I want to get better at?" and then think of how that passion can bring benefit to the world. We can agree that the world doesn't need more contempt, cynicism, gossiping, addictions, or scapegoating. But intentionality, mindfulness, proactive awareness...now we're talking! So when we're able to notice our actions, we can gently ask ourselves, "Is what I'm doing right now what I want to be getting better at?" and if you're feeling inspired, follow it up with, "To what benefit for the world, is this action I'm taking?"

As Howard Thurman reminds us, "...Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."

Any thoughts, feedback, or suggestions of your own? Chime in below.