How being an introvert can increase your influence


Leaders are typically expected to be outgoing, forceful, and even charismatic. Effective teachers are often portrayed in that same way, at least in the movies.

There are many examples, however, of effective educators who do not match that description. In fact, many of them are introverts.

You don’t have to dig very deeply into the characteristics of introverts to see why they would make outstanding teachers and administrators—for instance, they are likely to use solitude to gain energy and perspective, quietly observe others to determine how to best support them, and offer thoughtful, well-considered points of view to enrich conversations.

But I hadn’t thought a great deal about the ways in which their preferences would make introverts “quietly influential,” at least not until I read an essay by Jennifer Kahnweiler posted on Mary Jo Asmus’ blog. (Kahnweiler is the author of Quiet Influence: The Introverts’s Guide to Making a Difference.)

Describing scientists she observed in the cafeteria of a research institute, Kahnweiler wrote:

“I saw people sitting alone, eating, reading and simply starring into space. The atmosphere was so calm. These scientists and engineers develop innovative products and breakthrough ideas. I call them ‘quiet influencers,’ those who make a difference by challenging the status quo, provoking new ways of thinking, effecting change and inspiring others to move forward.

“Quiet influencers like these professionals begin their influencing journey where they think and recharge best: in quiet. They frequently return there. And it is not just brilliant scientists who tap into this reservoir to make things happen. The rest of us can benefit greatly from a needed pause in our hectic lives. Here are five key ways in which taking quiet time contributes to significantly increase our ability to influence others.”

Kahnweiler says that such quiet times unleash creativity, sustain energy, cause a better understanding of self and others, and promote focus.

She concludes: “Small steps here can make a big difference. Follow the quiet influencer’s lead and take a nice long walk, turn off your smart phone and even eat lunch alone once in a while. Then sit back and watch as your efforts to influence take shape.”

What is your experience as a “quiet influencer” or as one who has been influenced by such people?


2 Responses to “How being an introvert can increase your influence”

  1. 1 Deb Clancy June 11, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Thank you so much for posting this entry. It’s really nice to see advocates for “quiet influencers.” All of my career has been in public education, K-16. Over the years, I’ve seen many opportunities go to those that are “…typically outgoing, forceful, and even charismatic.” Standing next to those “leaders,” I’ve been viewed as moody, not a team player, and passed over because extroverts “couldn’t read me.”

    Fortunately, I’m in an environment now where finding “solitude to gain energy and perspective ( vs moody), quietly observe others to determine how to best support them ( vs not a team player), and offer thoughtful, well-considered points of view to enrich conversations” are viewed as positive contributions to the team.

    At the end of the day, I always want to do and be my best for kids and educators and have learned to adapt to the inferences about my thoughts and actions over the years.

    Thanks again for posting this insight and resource, so in the future I can articulate in better ways my skills and approach to life!

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