Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Introverted Leader -- book review

Cover of "The Introverted Leader: Buildin...Cover via Amazon

Jennifer B. Kahnweiler is a "champion for introverted professionals," her website says. I've just finished reading her book, The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. I really appreciated the book's approach. Most people giving advice to introverts start from the assumption that introversion is some kind of disease. Don't worry, there's a cure... or you'll have to grow out of it. I don't want to be cured, thank you very much and I don't want to grow out of who I am. What I want is a way to deal more effectively with situations where introversion is preventing me from achieving some of my goals.

Kahnweiler appears to have a much greater understanding of the introverts' strengths and as the title indicates, provides an approach that builds on the introverts' strengths.

Some of the advice appears to be a little contradictory. To have "presence," you have to be yourself, but you may also have to learn to "act" in order to push yourself to pretend that you're not paralyzed in social settings. I can reconcile that by trying to act like the confident and assertive version of me that I can imagine but doesn't show up very often.

Most of the advice is very sensible and not too difficult to act upon if you don't try to do it all at once. I really liked the chapter about "managing up." Whether your boss is an introvert or an extrovert, being proactive in managing the relationship is very likely to pay off.

The basic framework for the book is the 4 Ps of Preparation, Presence, Push and Practice, but the chapters are arranged around specific situations, such as public speaking, project management and meetings, all situations where success may require introverts to push themselves beyond their comfort zone. The 4 P's are repeated throughout the book and you can't help but remember them and what they refer to. I liked that I'll remember 80% of the advice just by remembering the 4 P's as a trigger for much more. The sections of the book are peppered with short anecdotes, descriptions of real settings and people who have either struggled with various aspects of introversion or found ways to succeed not so much in spite of introversion but using some of their introvert advantages.

Nowadays, you can't write a nonfiction book and hope to sell lots of copies without an accompanying consulting practice, and a blog (The Introverted Leader). It's more likely that the consulting practice existed before the book and the book is a way to reach out to potential customers (as well as a source of income).

I also picked up a few references mentioned in the book:

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1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Barbara - I appreciate the thoughtful, well written book review. The 4 P's has proven effective as a framework make development less overwhelming. In reference to your comment about Managing Up..I had a client report this week that her boss paid attention because she had planned her communication strategy more carefully.
Looks like you are doing some cutting edge work yourself.
Jennifer Kahnweiler
jennifer@aboutyouinc.com