Thursday, August 14, 2014

Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit -- Susan Cain

(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit in an effort to improve my leadership as a volunteer with Operation Christmas Child.  Learn more about OCC at ) --  Susan Cain speaks:

Quiet:  Challenging the Extrovert Ideal

I'm here because I want to tell you a story of how this quiet revolution has begun.  I went to summer camp at age 9 and my mother packed me a suitcase of books.  Then I got there and the counselor taught us a cheer r-o-w-d-i-e "that's the way to be rowdy" -- And I wondered why we had to do this cheer and spell this word incorrectly.  But I did the cheer and learned to look rowdy.  I was always trying to prove I was an extroverted person and I've come to believe it was a really big mistake.  It's a mistake we're making as a culture.

One half to one third of the population is introverted.  That seems surprising but it's because introverts get into the habit of acting like extroverts.  We need to learn to harnass the power of introverts.

Break up into groups of four and share a story from your childhood that illustrates you.  (I'm just kidding)  But how are you feeling as you hear this assignment?  This is how introverts feel often.

Introverts would rather do their own individual work and then come back and share with the group.

You've probably heard that introverts recharge by being on their own and extroverts recharge by being social.  How do you feel after being at a party for two hours?  That is an indication of how you are.

Introverts are more sensitive to stimulation than extroverts and can't handle as much.  Extroverts need more stimulation.  This can be mapped as early as four days after birth.

In one famous study math problems were given to extroverts and introverts to solve.  The introverts did better with softer noise and the extroverts with louder noise.  There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all environment.  People need to be able to choose their level of stimulation to do their best work.

Asian cultures may value introversion more highly.  In Confucianism there is the idea of yin and yang that is important between introverts and extroverts.

Implications for creativity--

--the most creative people are a blend of extroversion and introversion.  They need to be able to express their ideas but may need solitude for creativity.  Psychologists have shown that brainstorming is not advantageous for developing new ideas.

We are such social creatures that we end up being unconscious conformists.

What do we do to get the best ideas?
--Stop the madness for constant group work (suggest a hybrid process where people go by themselves to think and then come back to share with the group and stop periodically to let people think and process.  Make sure ALL share their ideas)
--Forget networking.  Focus on service.
--Restore quiet to our culture

church culture -- I talked to introverted church members who thought they were connected to God and then saw others in the church who seemed to connect with God in a more passionate manner and began to think they were less pleasing to God because they had more restraint.    Remember Elijah who heard God in a still, small voice?  We need to invite that quiet in.

What makes a "natural" leader?  What was Jesus' main personality trait? -- most when asked think that Jesus was an extrovert.  The perception is you must be extroverted to be a leader.

Jim Collins looked at the 11 top performing companies and he found every one of them was led by a level 5 leader and had 2 characteristics -- Very passionate about their companies but also described as shy, unassuming, low-key

How do we explain that? -- Many introverts get very passionate about a few things in their lives.  Many don't seek leadership for its own sake but in the course of their passions end up becoming leaders.

CEO of Campbell Soup -- shy, introverted.  During his 10 years he wrote 30,000 letters to employees.  Extroverted leader might use a different method.

US Army General -- always sequesters himself before making a decision

Gandhi -- so shy as a child he would run home from school so he didn't need to socialize.  Passionate about his cause

--Groom an "unlikely" leader
--Find your complement (no one is good at everything)
--Find a role model

"My role model is my grandfather," Susan says.  He was a pastor who gave gentle tapestries of sermons but had trouble making eye contact with his congregation.  When he passed away at age 94 the police had to close the streets to accommodate the throngs of mourners.

After writing the book I began to get thousands of letters so I started an organization called Quiet Revolution.  They are working on a quiet TV series to interview famous introverts.  They have a Quiet Leadership Institute to train companies how to harnass the ideas of introverts.

Public speaking has been terrifying for me but it is getting better.  I'm asking you all to take a step inward for a moment.  I want to ask you now, "What's inside your suitcase that you metaphorically carry around inside you?"  Whatever it is I hope you'll take these things out and grace them with your energy and your joy.

As introverts you have the tendency to guard your suitcase but occasionally take them out for all the world to see.

I wish you all the best of possible journeys and may you all have the courage to speak softly.

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