The whole leaning in thing — advocating for yourself, speaking up about raises and promotions — is great, but what if you're the strong, silent type? We have to admit that for those of us who prefer quiet reflection or struggle with projecting ourselves loudly and proudly, much of Sheryl Sandberg's advice is difficult to follow. In short, Lean In is an extrovert's game. Luckily, there's still hope for all you introverts out there, and it's coming straight from Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader, in the latest how-to from LeanIn.org.
First things first, according to Kahnweiler; you must identify the inherent roadblocks that come with being an introvert. Unfortunately, many of these are also deepened as a result of workplace bias towards women — think lack of visibility, negative impressions, and bias. Often times, spending time thinking or being "in your head" can be construed as being judgmental or calculating — and, this perception is often exaggerated in the face of male counterparts who operate with more outgoing demeanors. But, simply being aware of these challenges is half the battle.
Kahnweiler recommends five steps that can help you break out of the introvert's box and sidestep negative attitudes from coworkers. First, finding appropriate quiet time is key — if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, step away from the task or meeting if you can for some positive thinking, instead of sinking into yourself. Second, schedule specific opportunities for face time with your superiors and counterparts; it will give you an outlet for honest communication that doesn't require you to fight over louder employees, and gives you the chance to show off your true personality. Additionally, seeking out successful introverts as mentors will help you learn how to grow past your roadblocks in a realistic way. And, as always, network, network, network. This is clearly easier said than done, but in this day and age the advances of social media let us get our point across without hitting the dreaded cocktail-party circuit.
As with any problem, whether inside the office or out, the key to success is compromise and flexibility. You may not find yourself nabbing that promotion with barely the flick of a wrist, but a few simple, determined changes will make a major difference. And, at the end of the day, there's always the promise of a good book and a large glass of wine to make it all better. (Lean In)