Whilst doing a random introvert-related internet search, I came across a free online resource which I felt I had to share, because The Introverted Leadership Toolkit is a hidden gem.
What I like about this resource is that the content comes directly from the thoughts and actions of real introverted leaders. The product of a research project initiated by Dr Judy Curson, a self-declared introverted NHS (National Health Service) leader, the Toolkit tackles the challenges of being an introverted leader in our extrovert-oriented work culture.
Succinctly presented as bullet learning points, the challenges are followed up with positive approaches that the introverted leaders involved in the research have taken to address them or to develop their introvert strengths. The Toolkit is divided into four sections – Introversion in the workplace; Working relationships; Doing it your way; Learning and development – and each section is self-contained making it easy to dip in and out of.
As I read it, what really struck me was that many of the leaders who took part in the research only discovered they were introverts quite late on in their careers – often as the result of doing the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) test – and they felt it would have made a big difference to them if they had had this information earlier. Presumably also, these were the lucky ones – at least they did eventually experience some helpful development, albeit too little too late. But by implication, there must be many out there who never have.
The Toolkit was produced in 2011 and I wondered whether things have changed since then. Susan Cain and other US introvert champions have done much to raise the profile of introverts in recent years, but how much of it has it filtered through to the workplace, particularly in the UK? Are potential leaders finding out they are introverts earlier in their career trajectory and being encouraged to embrace their introvert strengths as they develop their leadership skills? I suspect not.
Something as significant as knowing whether you are an introvert or an extrovert should not be left to chance. This is particularly true of career development, which should be a relatively easy area to target for improvement – ideally starting in schools. There is clearly still much to be done to develop understanding and appreciation of introversion as a common personality type. In the meantime, this Toolkit provides a much-needed resource to support introverted leaders. Please pass the link on to anyone you think might benefit from it and let’s help spread the word.
See also an Inspiring Introverts interview with the author