Author Jennifer Kahnweiler Helps Introverts Be Successful Leaders

How can introverts be great leaders?

Jennifer Kahnweiler.

There has been a lot of focus on introvert and extrovert personalities ever since the release of Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop TalkingMany people assume that attorneys – especially those in the litigation field – are not inherently introverts because of the outspoken nature of the job. However, being an introvert makes a leader highly posed for success if they know how to best capitalize their personality traits.

Jennifer Kahnweiler, PhD, is an author, speaker and executive coach who has been hailed as a “champion for introverts.” A bestselling author, her books Quiet Influence and The Introverted Leader have both sold more than 20,000 copies each. Jennifer has spoken at hundreds of organizations including GE, AT&T, NASA, Freddie Mac, Boeing, Turner Broadcasting, the CDC, and the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam. She became committed to championing quieter people first by marrying one, second by helping organizations recognize and value them, and third, by helping introverted individuals step confidently into leadership and influencing roles.

Jennifer answers a few questions on how leaders can best harness their introvert personalities for career success. 

1. Many people think of extroverts as more successful leaders. But how can introverts leverage their talents to succeed as leaders?

Introverts ARE leaders.

They engage in 4 essential steps that I call “The 4 P’s.” Those are Prepare, Presence, Practice and Push. First they prepare for leadership scenarios whether it be a presentation to their team or a difficult conversation with an employee. Next they have presence. They show up “where their feet” are and really listen and observe people and situations.

Third, they push themselves and walk through discomfort as they try new skills. Fourth they practice. Those conversational and presentation skills that look so natural? They have practiced and strive to master the craft of connecting and communicating with people.  

2. How do you see introverts making a different in the law field? How do introverts make good lawyers, judges, law firm leaders, etc.?

One of the hallmarks of an introvert is their reflection and thoughtful analysis. Lawyers, judges and law firm leaders need to analyze and problem solve on a regular basis. The introvert’s strength in taking the time to do this serves them well when they are diving into research or working with people. Also introverts go for depth vs. breadth and this is another trait that is a great asset in the field of law. 

3. You talk about the six natural strengths of an introvert. Can you share a bit about a few of those?

I found six key strengths that introverts leverage to challenge the status quo, provoke new thought, inspire others and create change. I call this the Quiet Influence Process. 

  1. Take quiet time. Introverts prioritize periods of solitude that provides them with a powerful source of creativity and self-awareness.
  1. Prepare. Introverts increase their confidence to influence others by increasing their knowledge, creating a strategy and rehearsing.
  2. Listen. This innate introvert talent helps quiet introverts establish rapport and mutual understanding—especially when they observe body language, ask questions and serve as a sounding board for others.
  3. Have focused conversations. Introverts excel at the serious, purpose-driven, one-on-one or small group interactions vital for problem solving, working through conflicts and winning people over.
  4. Write. Introverts use this skill to influence others through deep, authentic, well-developed arguments that motivate others to action.
  1. Use social media thoughtfully. Introverts naturally use social media in a thoughtful and more effective way to develop and grow relationships, achieve visibility, and mobilize people—even those far across the globe.

4. What types of trainings or business development strategies should an introvert focus on to succeed as a leader?  

Many introverted leaders tell me that continuing to learn new people skills and communication strategies is of great value. Since one on one conversations are most comfortable for introverts use this approach to strengthen your network and build your business and sales in that way.

5. You also talk about the Quiet Influence Quotient. Can you explain that and how it can help an introverted leader?

The QIQ is an assessment that helps you determine how effective you are in using the 6 key strengths of quiet influencers. You can take it once and then track your progress by retaking it after applying the principles of Quiet Influence.

6. Tell us about your upcoming book The Genius of Opposites. What is it about and how does it complement your research and expertise on introverted leaders?

Getting to the place where introverts and extroverts celebrate their differences doesn’t happen just by wanting it. Creating extraordinary results with your opposite entails a lot of frustration and confusion before the joys of shared outcomes emerge.  In order to move from inspiration into action, you both need to commit to the five-step ABCDE process and learn the lessons that apply to your own situation. This process, developed from my research examining hundreds of introvert/extrovert relationships, along with key lessons and themes are included in my new book, The Genius of Opposites, and answers the need of how to get along with the “other half.”