#SWAAYthenarrative
4 Min Read
Career

I've always been an introvert and a woman—two traits which aren't exactly relished by the business world.

Yet I am also a long-time leader in my organization. I am, therefore, writing this to argue in favor of the introverts and women out there and to help anyone become a better leader. It's as simple as this: communication.

“Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone – that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born." – Nikola Tesla

This is the topic of my first book, releasing August 21, 2018, titled 10 Skills for Effective Communication: Lessons from the World's Greatest Leaders. It is a user's manual based on my comprehensive research on communication, beginning with being a terribly shy communicator, to now, a marketing and communications professional. Below are a few lessons that I have learned to help you scale your influence, regardless of how you are labeled.

First, Get Your Mind Right

Becoming a great leader begins with a belief. You must actually believe that you can do it. Herein lies the problem with titles like woman or introvert, and any other title of the sort: it has absolutely nothing to do with business but everything to do with belief. Our culture teaches us to believe in certain things, therefore we do.

I've always been an introvert and a woman—two traits which aren't exactly relished by the business world.

If you grew up your entire life believing that you couldn't be something then it's really hard to wake up one day thinking entirely differently. However, it is absolutely true that you can do anything. There is your culture around you, yes, but that doesn't mean you must agree with it.

There are a lot of biases in the world of business today, and they explain a lot about our culture. Leadership roles are predominately held by men. Introverts and women are far less likely to make it through your average hiring process, and far more likely to get stuck inside their role, without advancement, if they do get the job.

So we have our status quo, and everyone seems fine with that, so long as you're in the majority. The male extrovert types just think that they are better leaders, and success is about their skills, even if not entirely (or at all) the truth.

The truth about leadership is that good leadership requires a high level of empathy. Leaders must sense and react to the cultural trends of their customers and their internal teams. Leaders need to be great listeners. They need to be able to make sound judgments with quick reaction times. A great leader is a person who delivers for their shareholders, their employees, and their customers, all at once.

Notice that absolutely none of this has to do with extroversion or being a man.

Elon Musk employs First Principles Thinking, a process by which you break a concept down into its most basic components, and then use logic and common sense to come up with the best alternate solution.

For leadership, the best solution may be that personality types and genders don't have much to do with the role at all. Or, there may even be certain personality types that businesses are not capitalizing on now, but could yield greater results.

Next, Develop The Right Skills

Becoming a great leader is absolutely not an innate talent. Leadership skills are not a birthright. High birth may get you a position, sure, but we've all seen the vast difference between a leader and someone with just the title. The title is what you do, and leadership is when you do it in a way that inspires and motivates others to do, as well. Here are three communication skills from my book that will help guide you.

Leaders need to be great listeners.

Listen. Annoying bosses talk at you, and feeling that you are unheard can be quite demotivating. I have learned over time from many great leaders that the person who listens most can be the most powerful. This is a natural fit for introverts. We talk less and listen more. Listening is what allows you to empathize, which is key to influence.

Empathize. The second step is to truly understand the person, or people, that you wish to lead. So much is lost in between your words and your crowd's ears. The art of listening isn't about hearing, but understanding what is truly being said.

Enroll. Thirdly, give people what they want. If you can take what you want, and recraft it to be of mutual benefit to the person you need to inspire, well that's how motivation is born. When you put everyone on the same team with a common goal, you're far more likely to achieve an optimal result.

Finally, Trust The Stats. You Are More Powerful Than You Think

Research at Harvard found that woman CEOs create higher ROI on their investments, but still receive less investment than male CEOs. This is what we call a bargain. Women may just be that undervalued asset that over delivers on value. Introverts, on the other hand, spend more brain power in the thinking and reasoning side, and less on the socializing side. Introverts tend to speak less, but tend to make statements that are more well-thought-out than their extroverted counterparts. When it comes to making the sound judgments a business needs, First Principles Thinking would suggest that introverts would be better suited decision makers.

There is a similar case to be made for any type of person. My point being, leverage what makes you unique. You can't “average" your way to the top, after all.

This piece was originally published February 5, 2019.

3 min read
Lifestyle

Help! I’m Dating a Jerk!

Email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get the advice you need!

Help! I'm Dating a Jerk!

Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I've been dating my boyfriend for a year. After spending some vacation time with him and realizing he is not treating me the way I like I'm wondering — what do I do? I need him to be kinder and softer to me but he says simply, "chivalry is not his thing." I believe when two people decide to be together they need to adjust to each other. I don't think or feel my boyfriend is adjusting to what's important to me. Should I try to explain to him what's important to me, accept him for what he is, or leave him as I'm just not happy and the little gestures are important to me?
- Loveless Woman

Dear Loveless Woman,

I am saddened you aren't getting your needs met in your relationship. Intimacy and affection are important to sustain a healthy relationship. It's troubling that even though you have expressed your needs to your boyfriend that it's fallen on deaf ears. You need to explore, with a therapist, why you have sought out this type of relationship and why you have stayed in it, even when it's making you chronically unhappy? Your belief that couples should adjust to each other is correct to some degree. These things often include compromising and bending on things like who gets the bigger closet or where to go for dinner. However, it's a tall order to ask someone to change their personality and if your boyfriend is indeed a jerk, like you say, who refuses to acknowledge your love language or express kindness and softness, then maybe you should find a partner who will embrace you while being chivalrous.

- The Armchair Psychologist

Update to HELP! My Date is Uncircumcised and I'm Grossed Out!

Hi Armchair Psychologist,
Just wanted to let you know that your article was really offensive to read. Do you refer to women's genitals as: "gross," "ghasty," "smelly," or otherwise? Humans are not perfect, each of us is different and you should emphasize this. I hope that man finds a partner that will love and accept him rather than tearing him down. Which gender has a whole aisle devoted to their "special" hygiene needs? I can tell you it's not men.
With love,
Male Reader

Dear Male Reader,

Thank you for your thoughtful feedback to my Armchair Psychologist column. My email response bounced so am writing you here. I am so sorry I offended you. It wasn't my intention. I actually meant to be sardonic and make the writer see how ridiculous she sounded for the harsh language she used to describe her date. I obviously failed at this sneer since you think I meant to be offensive. Many apologies. I'll do better. Have a wonderful day and keep writing us with your thoughts.

- Ubah, The Armchair Psychologist

Need more armchair psychologist in your life? Check out the last installment or email armchairpsychologist@swaaymedia.com to get some advice of your own!