Leaders Show Up and Speak Up

In describing his approach to problem-solving discussions, Felix said, “I like to sit back and listen to what others are thinking.”

“Not me,” countered Marilyn.  “I get my ideas on the table first and then I encourage others to challenge my views.  The give-and-take helps me clarify, and often improve, my suggestions.”

“Aren’t you afraid you will suppress others’ thoughts by speaking so quickly?” asked Flex.

Marilyn answered, “No.  I encourage others to chime in.  In short order, we get our adrenaline flowing with rapid-fire comments and counter points.  We get more creative suggestions.”

“I see it differently,” Felix said.  “I’m very cautious about putting forth suggestions.  I want my team to own the solution.  I don’t get that if I talk too much.”

Most of us can recall verbal colleagues who express views on everything–including topics they know nothing about.  These people do lose influence because they eventually expose their lack of preparation.

Still, leaders do talk more than most during meetings.  Managers overlook some very capable people because they are reluctant to express their opinions.  To increase your influence and your value to your company, prepare well for your next meeting then show up and speak up.


Do You Over Value Loquacious Staff Members?

Although Estes attended every board meeting and did a great job auditing financials, I don’t remember him saying six sentences in twelve meetings.

In the midst of discussing a complex fund raiser involving multiple chefs, donated food, and unpredictable weather, Estes said, “I’d like to chair this project.”

Estes’ seemingly bold statement shocked eight other confident board members into silence. After a pause, Estes repeated, “I’d like to lead this effort.”

Because I had judged Estes as the classic, withdrawn introvert, he would have been the last member I would have chosen for this purpose. But since no other members seemed anxious to tackle the challenge, we reluctantly accepted Estes’ offer. As you might guess, Estes did a superb job planning, coordinating and executing the event to great success.

I think managers and peers often over value talkative extroverts while short-changing quiet, unassuming introverts. Recent research by Professor Cameron Anderson and others suggests that extroverts tend to lose status over time as their performance falls short of expectations.

By contrast, while they may have fewer opportunities, the status of anxious and withdrawn introverts tends to increase over time as their unrealized talents produce above expectations.