One of the most profound sessions from ASAE 2013 was the session on introverts. It prompted a lot of discussion on social media, among association pros, and definitely in this office. That’s why a recent article on Mashable caught my eye: How Introverts Can Stand Out at Work.
Most people probably assume that association leaders (or anyone who works with a large group of people, for that matter) are always extroverts. That’s just not true! While many of us aren’t 100% comfortable with putting ourselves absolutely in one column or another and recognize both qualities of introverts and extroverts in us, studies show that many successful leaders would call themselves introverts.
So then why is it still difficult for the “quiet ones” to get recognized at work?
The answer is simple. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Well, in this case no repair is necessarily needed, but attention is given. The more talkative, social, and “higher-profile” employees, or members in your case, are the ones talking, so they’re the ones being listened to. That might seem like you, in the face of an “extrovert” board or some of your more introverted members aren’t getting recognized for hard work or are overlooked entirely.
So here’s what the Mashable article says about introverts standing out:
The first tip is to identify and flaunt your quiet strengths. It seems like the flaunting would be the hard part for an introvert, but it might be the identifying. When you don’t often hear what your strengths are, sometimes it’s hard to really know them. Start with what you’re proud of, and why you like your position and go from there.
The second Mashable tip is “know when to rise to a challenge.” Honestly this is a tough one for anyone, introvert or extrovert, because challenges are outside the normal scope of behavior. It’s always difficult to try something new and branch out into the unknown. But it’s also essential for growth!
Finally, the third point hits on a very common problem with introverts: miscommunication. Silence is often interpreted in the worst ways but as with most things, communication is key. Doing a great job and working hard speaks louder than words, anyway!
The truth is, it can be difficult for anyone, introvert or extrovert, to navigate the professional world. When you add in a few thousand members and about a zillion tasks, it gets even more complicated.
Finally, don’t be ashamed of yourself no matter how your personality is! You’ll feel the need to continue to grow and learn, but don’t force yourself to be an extrovert if you’re not. You can still be an awesome leader either way!