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Introvert Leaders #3: Dealing with Change
Addressing the traits of introversion in a leadership role
Change is necessary. We need to adapt to new market conditions, new client needs, new technology, new hires, new political or economic situations, etc.
Some people enjoy this. Most introverts do not.
Most introverts avoid change because it disrupts their structure and processes, which leads to drama and chaos. Drama and chaos are not things that most introverts seek out.
For introverts to deal with change and then lead change, it helps to see it coming, so things can be planned. For companies and work teams, this is enhanced by effective, two-way communication. Consider adding an item to your staff meetings once a month; ask people what your team could be doing better, and discuss what it might take to get there. Let people know you’ll be repeating the question every month (and then actually do that, of course), so they can think about it. Encourage them to think about little things (e.g., “Can we get hazelnut coffee pods for the break room?”) and big things (e.g., “Should we be looking to develop a new revenue stream or try to break into a new market?”), as well as being on the lookout for upcoming issues that could create problems (e.g., “We’re doing a lot of sales that work for in-person retailers, but more people are shopping online. What can we do to boost our online sales, so we can still be profitable?”).
When good ideas come up, develop a vision for what successful implementation will look like. What makes the “after” better than the “before?” Successful communication of WHY this will be better helps many people get on-board and move into action on a change.
If you anticipate things in advance, you can ease people into the change before it becomes a frantic scramble to catch up. Lay out a process to include that change in future schedules and budgets. For example, if there is a better software the team could be using, you can plan to budget the licensing fee and to schedule training, so people know how to use it.
We can’t always see changes coming. Consider building a financial cushion into your budgets to deal with unanticipated changes, such as having to establish secure logins when a global pandemic hits and everyone needs to work from home, etc. <sarcasm> not that things like THAT ever happen <end sarcasm>.
When implementing a change, introverts will get on board and also be able to lead the change if they see a logical reason for WHY it’s happening, and if the proposed change process is logically organized. This is another place where effective communication helps. When proposing a change to introverts, consider asking a logic-based question, such as: “Given fact #1, fact #2, and fact #3, would it make logical sense for us to do X?” Asking the question actually gets them to internally answer the question. ASKING is more effective than just TELLING them that “we’re going to do X,” because it frames their internal process on the logic question, rather than on their internal aversion reaction to being told something is about to change.