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As 2013 now heads into the middle of March I have finally got back into blogging reviews about top leadership books. The one I am currently reading is called “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I was particularly interested in this book because I am an introvert and a business owner and often feel like I need to be more extroverted in order to go to networking events and sell business.
The first two chapters of this book, which are the focus of this blog post, begin to describe the Culture of Personality that the author says came about with the self help age in the 1930’s. It was a time where Dale Carnegie began to teach people how speak in public and sell using more extroverted means. It was a shift from a Culture of Character (from the Abraham Lincoln days) focused on the internal character to one favoring more of the external presence.
She said almost 100 years later that culture that favors extroverts still exists and provided three examples that cater to this ideal. She gave the example of a Tony Robbins (a very well known life/business coach) event where he taught and advocated for high energy, highly interactive ways of selling and dealing with people.
The second example was of Harvard Business School where the ideal student participated in class all the time, worked in study groups with others, and was also highly social in the evening leaving little time for down time.
The third example was evangelical church of Rick Warren, called Saddleback Church. Here again the ideal pastor/participant was highly extroverted and bringing more people in the fold.
The author claims here through her research that some of the most popular, well known institutions advocated and taught that extrovertedness is a highly desirable value and THE way to influence, sell, and bring people along to their views.
I find these three examples very powerful in showing that highly extroverted, charismatic personalities/institutions advocate for others to be that way too. As a Myers Briggs certified coach I know that each preference has value and brings different offerings to the world, but I do think that as extroverts there is often a tendency to think that extrovertedness is the best way to be. I do think in some ways I have adapted my natural preference of introvertedness in my business activities to fit this mold a bit and come home sometimes exhausted from all of the energy exerted outwards. Let’s see what the author says about the power of introverts as I continue the review in the next blog post...
Monica Thakrar has over 18 years experience in business focused mainly on strategy, change management, leadership development, training and coaching resulting in successful implementations of large scale transformation programs.