Think about the things great leaders have in common:
- People listen when they speak. I mean, can you imagine Bill Clinton having to raise his voice to get someone’s attention…? Or having to speak over someone else to be heard? No — when he opens his mouth, every other mouth in the room shuts.
- People remember you later — even if you don’t say a lot.
- People think of you first when they need a solution to a problem. If you had a computer problem who would you want to fix it? Personally, I’d want Bill Gates. I couldn’t get him, but that would be my number one choice.
Leadership is all about having the right skill set. And many introverts have personality traits they don’t recognize as skills.
Me in college. Not inspiring.
Back in college I weighed 120 lbs soaking wet. I was socially awkward. Hell, when I first started trying to teach people about personal finance, I couldn’t even get my friends to come to a free class.
But since then, I’ve written a NYT bestselling book. Google brought me in to teach their employees about personal influence. And hundreds of thousands of people have come to this site to learn everything from advanced social skills, to how to negotiate a raise, to why they shouldn’t send people pictures of their penis.
I’m not telling you any of this to brag. The simple fact is that all of my success is from studying the tactics that other successful people have used, and figuring out how to apply them to my life. Today I want to show you 3 simple traits you already have and can use to give yourself instant authority.
Personality Trait #1: You think and prepare
One thing I talk about a lot is front-loading the work. That means putting in the work beforehand so you can reap bigger rewards later on. It’s probably the biggest key to success in any area of your life. And as I explain in the video below leadership is no different.
Remember, front-loading is about being ready to add value whenever you walk into a room. The key is to take just 60 seconds to prepare. Most introverts already do this. All you have to do is direct that energy to focused preparation.
Ask yourself, “What can I talk about to start a conversation?”
- Is there something happening in the news?
- Is something trending on social media?
- What do people want to talk about in this group situation?
And think to yourself, “How do I want people to feel?”
- Do I want them to feel liked?
- Do I want them to feel entertained?
- Do I want them to feel attracted?
Make it a habit like brushing your teeth in the morning. That way, when you go in, you’re not depending on others to entertain you. You’re starting off adding value to others first.
Personality Trait #2: You love the familiar
There’s a rule in business called the Pareto Principle that says, ‘80% of your results will come from just 20% of the work you do.’ When it comes to social interactions, it’s more like 90/10. 90% of the results comes from just 10% of social interactions.
A good example:
How many times have you been out with friends and heard this conversation:
Friend 1: “Where should we eat?”
Friend 2: “I don’t know. Oh, what do you think?”
Friend 1: “I don’t know.”
This happens all the time. People do it when they talk about where to eat, what movie to see, what to do this weekend, and a million other things. And 90% of the time it doesn’t even matter what the decision is.
This next video will show exactly how to use scripts to thrive in these familiar situations.
Notice how each of those scripts is gentle. It’s delicate, but it’s also being a leader.
You can use those scripts whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re 40 or 25. In fact, you can even use them if you’re 25 or 30 and talking to an employer who’s twice your age.
That is the power of being an introvert.
You don’t have to flex your muscles all the time. You can simply make suggestions knowing that it’s adding value, so other people don’t have to think.
Personality Trait #3: You listen
Many times people fail to make genuine connections because they worry so much about what THEY are going to say, they never take time to ask questions and listen.
Asking questions of the right people does so many things: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, you get your problem solved, and you can potentially learn unexpected cool nuggets. But sometimes as introverts, it’s not obvious what we should ask questions about.
Start with the obvious. I’m always confused when I meet someone who spends a lot of time doing something but isn’t very good at it. For example, do you know people who never respond to their email? Email, the tool we spend over 6 hours a day on.
Whether it’s email, driving, cooking, or whatever, these are things we spend a lot of time on. Wouldn’t it make sense to ask someone for their tips on how to do it better? For many people, it never occurs to ask someone else for a few tips on improvement.
Think about the curious friends you have. They’re the ones who are always asking questions: “How did you get your computer to run so fast? How did you get the rain to fly off your windshield without wipers? How do you like your job?”
Some of these questions are more important than others. But being genuinely interested in how others do something can pay off big. As renowned author Jim Collins notes,
One day early in my faculty teaching career — I think it was 1988 or 1989 — [my mentor John] Gardner sat me down. “It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting,” he said. “Why don’t you invest more time being interested?”
If you want to have an interesting dinner conversation, be interested. If you want to have interesting things to write, be interested. If you want to meet interesting people, be interested in the people you meet — their lives, their history, their story. Where are they from? How did they get here? What have they learned? By practicing the art of being interested, the majority of people can become fascinating teachers; nearly everyone has an interesting story to tell.
Bonus: The Confidence Game
Now there are dozens of techniques to help you feel confident in awkward situations. And thinking of yourself as “shy” is probably the biggest thing stopping you from taking advantage of some of the introvert personality traits you already have.
That’s why I created a video series I call “The Confidence Game: 3 More Simple Leadership Skills.” It will show you three more easy to implement skills that will boost your confidence and make you a better leader.
Just enter your email address below and I’ll send it to you right away.