introverts , self awareness , people , leaders , extroverts , podcast , joanna , organisations , feedback , absolutely , hear , extroverted , knowing , bias , greater self awareness , introversion , realised , behave , managers , recruitment
Hello and welcome to the knowing self knowing others podcast, the fortnightly podcast that explores self awareness, leader effectiveness and leadership at all levels. Join me your host Nia Thomas as we talk to today’s knowing self knowing others guest
today I’m joined by Joanna Rawbone. And Joanna has an expertise within the area of introverts. And as somebody who’s an out and out introvert or an in an in introverts, I’m really looking forward to having this conversation. Joanna describes her job title as a bias shifter. And I’m sure we’ll talk about this as we go through our conversation today. But shifting the extraversion bias, which is something that’s absolutely fascinating. And Joanna also has her own podcast. So the flourishing introverts, if you are an introvert like me, it really is well worth listening. I think Joanna has advice, guidance and words of wisdom, in terms of how we introverts can play to our strengths is really, really helpful. But without further ado, I’m going to hand over to Joanna to introduce herself. Joanna,
thank you. And thank you so much for inviting me I’ve been so looking forward to this conversation, I must admit. And, and yeah, bias shifter because it took me a few decades actually to realise that the the extraversion bias is so embedded in society, in education, in business, and in everyday kind of business practice and processes. It’s not kind of something special, that the time has come if we’re, if people are serious about the DEI agenda, then actually, it’s time we considered introversion as one of the neurodiversity aspects. And so I reached that point, I’m pretty old, you know, I reached that point where I realised that if not now, when, if not me who unfortunately there are there are other people doing similar. So there’s a little cadre of us now who are actually starting to whip up some real momentum, I suppose behind this. But my my big vision in life is I imagine a world where introverts are valued for their natural gifts and talents and strengths, and don’t have to pretend in order to fit in and get on and they have a very lived experience of inclusion. That’s my, what I imagined and what I dream for the world
are fascinating thoughts to think of introversion as one of the newer diversities within an organisation. And yeah, absolutely. That is something to consider.
You know, when I’m because I still have, I still train and coach corporate clients, as well as focusing on introverts and enabling them to flourish. And how many times do we talk about, you know, the importance of self awareness, whether it’s, as part of emotional intelligence, whether we talk about it as part of how we, how we manage our workload, and our priorities, and it’s all about self awareness. And what I realised is that, for me, it’s about seeing as much of myself, as is available through an ongoing process. And there are three bits to my ongoing process, which is reflection, exploration and feedback. They’re the three areas for me that really contribute to my enhanced self awareness. And, and for me, it felt important to talk about to see as an experience as much of me as available, because I know, as an introvert, I’m not always available for other people, if my batteries are drained, or for myself, actually. And that was quite a realisation.
That is fascinating. So you see three different layers to self awareness, there was reflection,
yeah, exploration. And a part of that I include as kind of self observation, almost and feedback. So asking for and being discerning about the feedback so that I understand the parts of me that others see that I don’t see in myself, because in the past, I was particularly poor at taking on feedback graciously, especially if it was, you know, the motivational feedback that we used to call positive back in the day you’d be like, Oh, no, it’s nothing notice, you know, anyone can do that. And I’ve had to really learn to accept that gracefully and embody it and take it in and really, really own that.
Do you think there is a relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness?
Absolutely, I do and I you probably would have in mind Didn’t mean to say that anyway. And I think if leaders ever think they’re done, they’re complete on the finished article, then there’s, you know, they’re missing, I think some really key components. Because there’s something for me about where’s the humility, especially where’s the situational humility. I remember hearing that phrase for the first time in Amy Edmondson TED talk, when she was talking about teaming and talking about situational humility and the power of a leader who can say, I don’t know, I’ve never experienced this before. So I think that’s something that’s incredibly important, and also their ego and how they’re getting in their own way. So I think, to understand and to have that feedback about if and how they’re getting in their own way, and maybe how they’re allowing their ego to get in their own way is important. And I think the other thing that comes into play there for me is, so many leaders that I have worked with, and may still work with almost fall into the delusional category, where they’re blinkered, they don’t see the feedback that people are trying to give them. There’s almost something about, you know, they’ve created echo chambers around them so that all they hear is what they want to hear, as opposed to what they probably need to hear. Do you think that there is something very definite and very observable in the different ways that introverts and extroverts are able to receive feedback? I don’t know that I could split it out as cleanly as kind of introvert and extrovert partly because there are six different types of introverts. There are six different types of extroverts and many blends. So it’s not a fixed necessarily a fixed thing. So for example, I’m an open introvert, if you ask me how I’m feeling, I’ll probably tell you so you better mean the question. Whereas somebody who’s a classic introvert, if they’re asked how they’re feeling might give her a quick short kind of one word answer. So you know, we are we are different in terms of how we show up and as introverts. So when it comes to feedback, I think all of us have some kind of learning process to go through in terms of being able to take on feedback as an adult, and I’m using that term in the transactional analysis sense in terms of, you know, kind of quite data in data out and really kind of taking it on board. But the delusional are likely to fob it off. Would I go as far as to say, more? extroverts and introverts are delusional? I don’t know. I’ve never thought about that. And it doesn’t feel right as I’m saying it. But what is interesting, I suppose, is whether I’m introverted or extroverted, can I really hear what’s being said? Can I stay present and accept it, so that I can either work with it? Sometimes I can be discerning with it and say, That’s interesting. Don’t really recognise it. As part of me. I may go in search of other evidence. I think introverts because they spend so much time in their heads, or I spend so much time in my head as an introvert. I think I’m, I judge myself harder than other people judge me, which probably makes it difficult for me to then accept the motivational feedback, the kind of, you know, what a great job you did or what an impact you’re making, whatever. And I suspect that the delusional would lap that up and kind of suck it in whether introverted or extroverted. So it’s not a clean answer to your question, and I apologise for that. But I don’t know that I can give you a clean answer anyway.
Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels of organisations?
Absolutely. Long time ago, I learnt this, this kind of saying, which is, in order to be a leader, all you need is follow us. And I absolutely have witnessed that. I mean, I’ve now been working in the world of learning and development and coaching since 1987. So I’ve got decades of experience. And I have witnessed some extraordinary leaders at non managerial levels. But what they have is the ability to engage people the ability to take them with them on a journey, whether it’s by being able to share a vision or whether it’s by by being able to empower people, whatever it happens to be. So absolutely, I think it can be at any level for my money. IT managers ought to be able to lead and I don’t use ought very often, but I am going to go in this instance. So managers ought to be able to lead. But leaders don’t necessarily need to be managers. So yeah, for me, they, they are anywhere within an organisation within a family within society, they can be everywhere and anywhere, they don’t need a title that says, leader in order to lead and, and some people do have that natural, very natural ability, I think to, to lead.
It’s interesting you say that about leaders versus managers. I think it was only last week that I was writing something saying exactly the same that as a manager, there are times when you need to step into leadership step back to being a manager. But actually, if you are a leader, sometimes you don’t do that managing, you just do that leading people getting to grips with that definition. It is something that we need to think about, we need to talk more about,
I agree, I think introverts make very different types of leaders. Okay, so they’re unlikely to be the tallyho lamps at the front kind of charging ahead type leaders, in my experience, they’re much more likely to lead from within the pack, they’re much more likely to be open to people taking different leadership roles as the situation demands. So they, they’re less likely to be that big, charismatic leader that sadly, we became used to for a few decades, and much more likely to be the quiet, influential calming type leader. So we can be ever anywhere as a leader, but we will be noticeably different as a leader to
that’s really interesting. And something that I I talk to people about is sometimes you have to lead from the front. And sometimes you have to lead from the back. And you’ve got to know the difference. And I guess self awareness is what you need to do one and you need to do the other.
Yeah, absolutely. And one will be more comfortable for some and more comfortable for another and some will be a stretch for for each of us.
Do you think leaders at the most strategic level of organisations have greater self awareness and leaders at other levels of organisations?
Sadly, not. Tell me more. Again, this is from experience. And there are too few who actively seek or given actionable honest feedback, it’s back to that echo chamber that they quite often, whether it’s whether it’s deliberately or not, but they create around them. So that echo chamber, it isn’t helpful for them to understand and to raise their own self awareness, especially if people are, you know, constantly patting on the back and you know, you’re doing a great job and, and filtering out the messages that are often bubbling up through the organisation, but don’t get as far as those strategic leaders because people feel awkward, ashamed, afraid, scared, whatever it happens to be, but often, and I spent 19 years in BT working through the management ranks, and we used to refer to those middle managers, as the primaeval swamp kind of things would disappear into it and never come out from both directions, actually. And I think unfortunately, that’s what happens is that they are protected somehow from the reality sometimes. And also they can build around them that group of yes, people, but you know, maybe due to the affinity, bias, whatever it happens to be, but they’re a good chap, you know, good girl, good woman, whatever it happens to be, they can be on my team. And I go back to something that I think Bill Gates said many decades ago, which is that he builds around him a team of people who do things better than he does who do the things that he can’t do. And that’s kind of the indirect opposition to that echo chamber, then I think many insecure and leaders who lack self awareness probably build around them something quite different.
There is something that makes me think about recruitment when you talk about people who are in echo chambers. Is the recruitment method that we generally use interview, interview one, interview two, does that tend to make it more difficult for introverts to rise up to the level the strategic level of organisations? And do you think that there’s a different way we can be approaching recruitment to allow people with more self awareness to get up to that level? Yeah, absolutely.
There is. And it’s something I talked about both in my TEDx talk and on other podcasts as well. Yes, there is lots more that we can do. And my heart I have to say my heart sank the first time I realised that people have interviewed coaches who can poach them, how to show up more as more extroverted in interviews, so that they get the jobs so that they impress the, the panel, whatever. My issue with that, and I have many issues with it, but the biggest one probably is that if that is a successful strategy, and the person gets the role, then they show up in the workplace and the managers are gonna go, well, who’s that? That’s not who I saw it interview because it’s unsustainable. And the reason that we know it’s unsustainable is because introverts like me, who spent decades being told, push yourself forward, speak up more, do this, me be more this, in other words, be more extroverted, eventually get to that point of burnout and recognise that actually, it’s not sustainable. And more than that, our journey through there to burnout gives us that real sense of we’re not okay, as we are, we’re not good enough as we are, we can’t be who we really are, and be a success in this world, which is a nonsense, a good recruitment panel will have a balance of introverts and extroverts on there. Because introverts have tend to have that different communication process, we have a think, say, think communication process. So when we’re asked a question, we honestly want to take the time to reflect on the question to work out what our true answer is, and then give what is honest for us, whereas extroverts tend to have this, say things say, so it’s a stream of consciousness that they’ll make sense of on the way. So I think it’s about acknowledging that if somebody is taking their time to answer, it’s not that they don’t know, it’s not that they’re unsure. It’s that actually they’re giving the question due consideration, and don’t we want people to do that? Don’t we want people to really reflect? And likewise, in assessment centres? I’ve heard people talk about, yeah, I marked him down because he only said two things. But what did he say? Why, why are we still marking the quantity of contribution over the quality of contribution? And then then I’ve heard organisations say card that, you know, they never stopped talking? Well, that’s what you looked for on the assessment centre, right? Yeah. A colleague of mine who who builds assessment centres has now been really diligent about the fact that when there is the group conversation, the group discussion, which there often is, it’s closely followed by a reflective exercise where they’re asked to write a report about the group conversation. And what they then see is where the introverts really come into their own, because they noticed more, they heard more, they’re simulated more ideas than the people who are constantly talking, it is about making sure that what we’ve got here is an equitable process. So we’re not just promoting the extroverts promoting those who are good at self promotion, promoting those who are good at thinking on their feet. Because sometimes, yeah, we need people to think on their feet. Sometimes we need considered responses. And there’s a time and a place for everything. And there are so many leaders in good positions, that we don’t have to look too far to recognise just how many people make it to the top as an introvert. And then what they do is really create a culture around them that values that calm that quiet that considered nature, the people who aren’t needy, the people who are resourceful, the people who can keep their head down and get into flow and produce some great work. And that’s what we need a balance of
Matthew Saeed has written a really interesting book, and he talks about cognitive diversity. Absolutely. That’s where it’s at. Do you think effective leaders have more self awareness than ineffective leaders?
This is a potentially Yes, answer. This one, because I’ve also experienced people who have self awareness. So it’s not that they don’t have that self awareness, but that they don’t actually still behave from a position of understanding or knowing that so they may have developed self awareness but for whatever reason, are still may be defensive. They still don’t have a strong sense of self maybe they don’t have maybe there’s a an unhealthy ego still at play there. I think people can be self aware, but for whatever reason, whether it is the bias in an organisation, whether it is some kind of sense of Yes, I know that’s who I am. And I still need to behave differently or show up differently. So I don’t think effectively does necessarily have greater self awareness. That is fascinating, definitely something about this idea that people have to show up as somebody else and they maybe they, they don’t feel that they
can be authentic or themselves to be able to lead, and can definitely see that there is a link between introversion and extraversion and the extraversion bias that you started off the conversation with. Absolutely, I can see that. And I can envisage that as you’re talking. Yeah.
And for me, also, you know, self awareness does not automatically equal as a strong moral compass or ethical behaviour, because people can still be somewhat self to step two, they can still be delusional, they know it at one level. But you know, if, especially if they’re, what’s the psychopathic thing about the book about snakes in suits? You know, for many of them, it’s not that they don’t know, it’s that for whatever reason, they’re choosing not to behave that way. They’re choosing not to behave in an ethical way.
And that was one of the things that really drew me to do the research that I did it was that question of, Do you have self awareness? And you’re making a choice to be heading this way? Or do you simply not have self awareness? And I guess that’s that enduring question of, Do you know, when you’re choosing or do you not know? And I guess there are people that you think about, maybe they’re one thing or the other, depending on the day? Yeah,
absolutely. And I think it’s, is this even better? I don’t know, to have self awareness and then choose to behave in a different way. If then maybe that somehow smacks of greater self awareness? I don’t know. But for me, it’s less scary than someone having self awareness and being oblivious to the fact that they’re, they’re kind of behaving in a, I don’t know, an unethical way or whatever.
The Dunning Kruger effect is what I always come back to is, do I not know? Yes. Which is the Dunning Kruger or do I know when I’m making a choice? Yeah.
It’s been absolutely wonderful having a conversation with us. Thank you so much for joining me. I will make sure that the link to your podcast and the link to your TEDx Talk is in the show notes. So listeners you are able to click on the links and follow Joanna as she talks to you and tells you a bit more about introversion. Do you want to thank you, thank you, it’s been a pleasure.
Thank you for joining me, your host near Thomas, but the knowing self knowing others podcast. If you’d like to know more about self awareness, leader effectiveness and leadership at all levels. Please take a look at my website knowing self knowing others.co.uk You can also join me on YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter. Make sure you bookmark the knowing self knowing others podcast and tune into the next episode in two weeks time. I look forward to having you on my learning journey.
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