Category Archives: Management

Do Introverts Make the Best Leaders?

I have a friend that has moved quickly up the ranks of a major corporation. Despite his somewhat speedy transition to jobs with increasing responsibility, back-to-back performance reviews that hit the far exceed mark, and stellar leadership reviews from his team and customers, some of his “mentors” continue to advise him to “speak up more”. Despite a 20-year track record of successful results, my friend continues to receive this feedback which he continues to find confusing.

Okay.  It’s no secret my friend is a bit of an introvert. He doesn’t feel compelled to fill silence with small talk just to hear himself speak. Nor is he a pseudo-intellectual who wants to dazzle you with his brilliance by spouting off facts and data he memorized. He’s just a very intelligent man with a wealth of knowledge and experience that is cushioned by a strong work ethic and a warm personality. He treats people the way he wants to be treated, and understands the importance of feedback…whether it’s positive or about an area that can be improved upon.

So does this make him less than a leader?

Having been a product of the corporate world for more than 24 years, I remember all too well the colleagues with the big titles who sat at the executive table and raised their voices (loudly) to make a point. Sometimes a fist would bang or a door would be slammed as they stormed out of meetings. Often a caustic remark was interjected as the decibels increased.

I’ll give you, that kind of behavior doesn’t speak well of the corporate culture, but these were the individuals identified as the leaders or high performers. That aside:

Did this make the individual a better leader? Did they get the results they wanted? Did it help the organization move forward or enable a team member to innovate or achieve on their own? I can confidently say, “No. It did not.”

I thought of my friend, and others I have met along the way, who fall under “the curse” of being on the quiet side as I read this article. I thought I would share so that we’re all reminded that sometimes introverts make the best leaders:

There’s good reason why 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts. From broker Charles Schwab to Avon chief Andrea Jung, “innies” possess these traits of quiet leadership:

1. They think first. Even in casual conversation, leaders learn by listening. They realize that their authority alone makes them visible, so they use their calm demeanors to make a statement. Just one thoughtful comment in a meeting can move a group forward.

2. They run deep. Leaders delve into ideas. Deborah Dunsire, a physician and president of a biopharmaceutical company, schedules walk-around time. “I would say, ‘Hey, what is keeping you up at night? What are you working on? Where can we improve?’

3. They exude calm. Because they are low-key, introverted leaders project reassurance and confidence in times of crisis. One executive tells himself before networking events, “I can do anything for 30 minutes.”

4. They write it down. Comfort with the written word helps leaders explain the reasons for their actions and also documents those actions.

5. They enjoy solitude. Introverts recharge by spending time alone. Regular time-outs fuel their creativity and decision-making. During high=pressure periods, this helps them stay reflective, not reactive.

Martin Schmidler, VP at a food service company, tells his people he needs time to absorb what he learns, and he is clear on how and when he’ll get back to them. He consistently follows through.

- Adapted from “Why Introverts Can Make the Best Leaders,” Jennifer Kahnweiler,

10 Management Lessons from Harry Potter – Kelley Brown/Leigh Steere

I’m a huge Harry Potter fan. I admit it.  I read all the books right alongside my two boys as they were growing up, fighting the urge to read ahead after they fell asleep. Yes – I was the “that person” who cried in the movies and, of course, at the end of the final book. So when I saw this article, I was immediately drawn in. Who knew that our beloved wizard friend could also teach us so much about management!? Thank you to author Leigh Steere (and Harry!) for these great lessons:

To conclude this summer’s Harry Potter mania, it seems fitting to study the HR implications of J.K. Rowling’s seven volumes.

Her novels explore human nature, communication dynamics, moral dilemmas, and social issues, so why not use them as a source of business inspiration?

Consider this scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:

Headmaster Albus Dumbledore gives Harry an urgent assignment. Harry makes one feeble attempt at completing it, but fails. He ponders other possible approaches to the task but postpones taking further action. (Sound like any employees you’ve encountered?)

Days later, Dumbledore asks Harry about his progress. After Harry describes his one measly attempt, Dumbledore sits in calm silence. He doesn’t yell or get mad. After a few moments, he simply responds, “I see. And you feel you have exerted your very best efforts in this matter? That you have exercised all of your considerable ingenuity? That you have left no depth of cunning unplumbed in your quest” to complete the assignment?

Here’s the beauty of Dumbledore’s performance management technique: By staying calm, he keeps Harry focused on performance. Managers who lose their cool miss a teaching opportunity. Why? The employee’s focus shifts away from the business at hand to managing a volatile communication.

Here are nine other business lessons from the series:

1. Recognize your prejudices. In the Potter books, we meet “squibs” (offspring who lack magical skill), “mudbloods” (witches and wizards with non-magical parents), giants, and werewolves. Various people shun them just because of their “status.” Managers: Who makes you uncomfortable? Discomfort often signals a lurking prejudice.
2. Treat people as equals, and they will give their all for you. Dobby, the house elf, blows his nose into his clothes, instead of using a tissue. Luna wears odd jewelry and rattles on about far-fetched topics that cause fellow students to label her “Loonie Lovegood.” Harry steadfastly treats them as equals. He listens to them and genuinely considers their input. Do you treat everyone as equals, regardless of their job or salary? When you do, they’ll go to the mat for you.
3. Choose competence over pedigree. Some think Hagrid’s lack of credentials should disqualify him from teaching Care of Magical Creatures, despite his clear gifting with critters.Are you passing over great candidates, because they have diplomas from community college instead of Harvard?
4. Pause before judging an employee’s potential. Neville Longbottom can’t seem to get anything right in the early books. In one class, he ends up suspended from a chandelier. Physically clumsy and lacking confidence, Neville becomes fodder for pranks and bullying. Yet he emerges as a key hero later on. Have you written off any employees as “lacking potential?” Take a second look.
5. Speak up if you see what’s holding an employee back. Neville is extremely gifted in herbology. But his grandmother thinks working with plants is a “soft” occupation and actively steers him toward another career. He begins succeeding when Professor McGonagle encourages him to play to his strengths instead of his grandmother’s whims. Millennials with helicopter parents may be marching to mom’s and dad’s rotors. Help young workers break the tether and find their own flight path.
6. Avoid saying “shut up and follow the rules.” That’s oppression, not leadership.Dolores Umbridge shows what happens when you saddle people with layers of regulations. Some lose their motivation, psychologically “check out,” and continue plodding along with their heads hung low. Others rebel in disruptive ways. The Weasley twins’ exit in Book 5 is breathtaking. Are your employees plotting dramatic departures?
7. Be humble enough to change your mind publicly. Harry Potter has many reasons to hate Severus Snape, who constantly makes disparaging remarks about the young wizard. But in the end, Potter gets new information that reshapes his thinking. Harry names his second child Albus Severus Potter in the ultimate public reversal of sentiment. Managers: willingness to admit mistakes builds workplace trust and respect.
8. Foster collaboration. Discourage “lone cowboy” mentality. Harry and Ron would not have survived without Hermione’s textbook knowledge. None of them would have made it without help from Aberforth, Order of the Phoenix, and Dumbledore’s Army. Does your organization reward prima donnas or great team players?
9. Break the elder wand. Power corrupts. Succeeding in business isn’t about collecting power. It’s about serving others and improving the world in some way. How are you personally making a difference in the workplace?