Blog: Can an introverted giver be your trusted adviser?


Can an introverted giver be your trusted adviser?

Introvert: A lot of us are blown away by the confidence and swagger that people exhibit and not the ones who are quiet and shy
Can an introverted giver be your trusted adviser?

A lot of us are blown away by the confidence and swagger that people exhibit and not the ones who are quiet and shy

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” – Susan Cain

We live in a world where speaking up is considered a far more important behavioral trait than listening quietly and taking it all in. We have heard innumerable stories about how frauds, scams and problem-situations could’ve been avoided if our leaders and managers were more assertive, and if they could exert greater control over their peers and subordinates. This may be true, but it certainly is not the full story. One seldom hears inspiring stories about the quiet leader who speaks up only when required, checks his ego every so often, readily admits to his mistakes and roles up his sleeves to painstakingly fix problems as and when they arise.

When lop-sided opinion about authority, assertiveness and control makes popular press, the extroverts among us may be left with a feeling that they are right in exerting (undue?) power and influence over others, whereas the introverts may feel that they are falling behind and speaking out of turn may not be a bad idea after all.

In an inspiring TED talk, author Susan Cain makes a powerful appeal to the world to pay close attention to the introverts around them. A self-described ‘Quiet Revolutionary’, Susan made a living in the loud and boisterous world of corporate law. Through her talk, she shares anecdotes from her life and how she tried (in vain) to get others to see her quiet, introverted point of view. She points to revolutionaries like Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Mahatma Gandhi who described themselves as quiet and soft-spoken, and even shy. They all took to the spotlight (like her), even though every bone in their bodies was telling them not to.

Introverts have always been told (directly or indirectly) about the need to emulate their extroverted counterparts. While this may be required to an extent, it may not be a bad idea for the extroverts to tone down their rhetoric just a little bit and meet the introverts somewhere in the middle.

Professor Adam Grant of Wharton is the youngest full professor and single highest-rated teacher. He completed his PhD from the University of Michigan at age 26, within a record-busting 3 years! In his seminal, research-driven, and highly readable book – Give and Take, Professor Grant writes about a trait that a lot of introverts also share – that of giving. To paraphrase the back cover of his book: “We are taught to think that people who give without expecting anything in return are at the risk of being exploited – but the truth is that they are often the most successful in any given field”. He talks about givers, takers and matchers, and then goes on to emphasize the need to learn from the givers. From a cultural perspective, we may feel that giving is the right thing to do, but we are not so sure about its application in the ‘cut-throat real world’. Professor Grant backs up his arguments with solid research and real-life stories. For example, did you know that Richard Branson started his first charity when he was only 17?

Building a great personality, speaking with confidence, being assertive etc., are all great skills to develop. But what really lies beneath all of that? For example, you might be blown away by the swagger and confidence exuded by your wealth-adviser. But what if it was all just an elaborate facade to earn a cool commission on a product you may not have invested in otherwise? Would you still trust the person to handle your hard-earned savings? The reality is that (let’s be honest) a lot of us do.

Because we are distrustful of quiet leaders and managers under whose leadership a number of frauds and scams have cropped up, our super-primed subconscious erroneously extends that knowledge to the situation at hand and makes a wild extrapolation to choose the next best option – go for the adviser who is oozing with confidence. And herein lies the problem: Choice by elimination (and not by preference). Hey, we don’t want our savings to go belly up like the economy now, do we? Think about it.

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Topics: Leadership, #ExpertViews

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