Why We Need Introverted Leaders | Angela Hucles | TEDxBend



I believe we all have the capacity to be great leaders what's important is the act of being a leader and discovering our moments to lead in life being prepared for leadership moments means making the choices that will ultimately put you in a position to succeed when given the opportunity teams and sports teams in business even family teams need to have strong leadership to collectively reach desired outcomes 96% of leadership positions are filled with extroverted individuals with extroverted qualities only 50% of the population actually identifies as being an extrovert that other half the introverts supply only 4% of our leaders as an introvert who has held leadership positions on teams that I've played for as well as being the president of the women's Sports Foundation it seems to me that by supplying the vast majority of our leaders with only half of the population it's a bit short-sighted imagine a group made up of only extroverts now imagine a group made up of only introverts isn't it the blend of the two that really create the best space energy enthusiasm excitement combined with groundedness the ability to listen and strengthen calm can't introverts lead to yes we can and today I want to tell you how we can create the conditions to make that happen as an introvert I definitely need my downtime especially after being around large groups I remember when I was 7 years old and I was working on a class assignment the school bell rang signaling that it was time for recess which is one of my favorite times of the day and I jumped up to go grab my coat the teacher turning me and said Angela you can't go outside yet you haven't finished your assignment you can either finish it now or you stay inside the classroom well that's what she said wouldn't be until I was an adult that I would understand what she meant was stay inside the classroom until you finish your assignment well I loved the feeling of running around the school playground and that freedom there was something quite peaceful right after all of my classmates had left the room in that moment I observed this peace this quiet I remember there was Sun streaming in from the window and this feeling of energy flowing back to me this is my earliest memory of enjoying and needing that quiet and recharging time as an introvert so you can imagine my surprise when I turn to the teacher and said I was just fine staying inside the classroom to wait until recess was over instead of doing my assignment she has courted me right down to the principal's office I wasn't trying to be sassy or troublesome I was in that moment expressing what I actually needed and wound up getting in trouble for it have you ever been misunderstood before or felt dishonored like I did by my teacher maybe you're an extrovert and someone told you to stop talking so much and be quiet or maybe you're an introvert and someone said to speak up more participate that craving and desire of stillness was a sign of my introverted self it was an example of how even though at times introverts may be quieter than others less likely to dive head-on into conflict we can still maintain a very strong will there is still a passion residing in an introverted soul even if he or she may be more reserved most of the time it's during the times of solitude when introverts can draw upon their strengths to lead to find courage which can later be displayed once our teammates our work colleagues our classmates return from that playground have you ever needed a time just to regroup recharge yourself maybe you were at work and disappeared to a bathroom stall or maybe you just need it to step outside for a walk alone it's during those times of solitude and really that strength and power within is quiet where we can draw upon our strength to lead to find courage which can later be displayed once everyone gets back to the room there was a very special time back in 2008 it was the 2008 Summer Olympics and I was playing for the US soccer team and we won we placed first we placed first earn gold at the Beijing Summer Olympics so as a gold medalist in soccer and every player on that roster can then rock some gold bling around her neck I was also the silver boot winner meaning that I was the second leading goal scorer in the entire Olympics for women's soccer additionally I was the US team's leading goalscorer for that Olympics that year and that is the extroverted version of the story I still struggle expressing that version of the story to this day does anyone else in here get a little bit squeamish when they have to talk about their own accomplishments the irony is that with the success my team and I shared at that Beijing Olympics it's a bittersweet memory for me behind the success there was stress there was anxiety and really big fear to overcome leading force and driving force of our 2008 Olympic team was our Ford Abby Wambach yeah she was the energy she was the engine and that vocal extroverted leader of our team leading up to the Olympics before we even flew over to China we played a practice game called a friendly match versus Brazil during that match our extroverted leader whose energy really was large enough to fill a 100000 seated stadium a vomit pose into the tackle breaks her leg she would no longer be able to compete in the Olympics with us that year and we were devastated not only were we incredibly upset to lose our fearless leader but we really didn't have a plan B without her at a time when we needed to be at our peak and the most focused we had feelings of nervousness on top of what we were already naturally feeling about competing in the Olympics our first game in the Olympics we faced Norway 59 seconds into the start of the game Norway scores a goal three minutes later Norway scores the second goal we would eventually get a goal later on in the match but it wouldn't be enough and we lost our opening game of the Olympics two-to-one all those fears that we had all of the comment from doubting reporters questioning our ability to not only defend our title but to make it out of group play really started to bubble up to the surface of our team what would you think in the situation if you're a part of this team can you think back to a time whether it be in work or with your family or even a sports event when the stakes were extremely high and you faced this moment of truth what did you do well my team had to make a choice to step into the defeat that was staring us in the face or step into the opposite direction towards that Olympic podium we had a defining moment our focus and our mentality switched so what do we do well we let go of that first loss against Norway we put it behind us we decided to commit and trust in our abilities trust in our preparation we individually and collectively seized on a moment to lead we understood that each of us had a larger responsibility to fulfill not to be relied upon just one extroverted leader so we stepped onto the field with an elevated sense of competence and elevated responsibility because we had to we needed to use our leadership qualities in order to stand a chance of reaching our ultimate goal throughout that Olympics we were tasked to gain confidence in the media and others that doubted our abilities but more importantly we played in a way to give us confidence for ourselves the majority of my career and time with the US national team I was a reserve a bench player coming into games throughout my life I had some coaches encouraging me to act like other players at times instead of myself at this Olympics it was very special opportunity you see the year before this Olympics was our World Cup year I was one of only two players to not play a single minute in that entire Tournament however this Olympics this introvert was being asked to start and to play in place of the most extroverted leader of our team abby wambach during this leadership crisis no teammate no coach asked me to play talk or be just like someone else they understood what I needed they allowed me to be me and the space being created allowed me to play or recover however made me feel the best and that allowed me to perform my best I started noticing the same things out of my other teammates as well whether a starter or reserve typically vocal or typically quiet people were stepping into their roles and responsibilities freely and something magical began to happen people were starting to step into their leadership roles and responsibilities and the energy and cohesion of our team started to form in a new way at the perfect time what at first felt like a devastating loss from Abby's injury and that wake-up call from the loss against Norway we transformed it into a collective victory by individually stepping into our own unique leadership positions and each seizing the moment to lead we were able to have every single player on that US soccer team that year stepping up onto the podium with a gold medal around her neck after the final whistle blew the New York Times recently published an article entitled what Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team a common behavior the most successful team shared had inequality in the distribution of conversational turn-taking the other finding was that teams had a high average social sensitivity in essence individuals on teams felt logically safe and secure to be themselves to speak up and feelings of mutual trust and respect my 2008 Olympic journey was my firsthand experience and showing me exactly what that research talks about it doesn't matter who you are it doesn't matter what position or title you might currently hold it doesn't even matter what personality you have our greatest chance of success of having a happy home life of reaching our quotas with our teams at work we're making it to an Olympic podium comes from each of us having the opportunity to contribute to the conversation now I don't know the breakdown on percentage of how many extroverts versus introverts there were on that Olympic team but what I do know is that there was a space that opened up one in which allowed an introvert like myself an opportunity to display leadership at the beginning of this talk I mentioned that 96% of leadership positions are filled with extroverted individuals with extroverted qualities and only 50% of the population actually identifies with being an extrovert if we continue to fill 96 percent of all of our leadership positions with only half of the population are we truly operating at our best potential we all have unique abilities how would things change if we open up the space for everyone to feel psychologically safe and secure to be themselves no matter who you are each and every one of us has the ability to tap into our passionate selves into our strong wills and when the moment comes we'll be prepared let's make sure that we focus on creating and opening the space for one another no matter what type of vert we may be so that any one of us is ready for that moment to lead thank you you

Maurice Vega

26 Responses

  1. we are busy playing games in our room so you dont see us alot. we work in the day go home play same cycle everyday. i remembered in collage when they called me anti social.

  2. I feel like I missed something. I heard a lot of emotionally manipulative non-verbal communication, and some ramblings about not being pushed to be something she wasn't. Where was the leadership? Where is the persuasive arguments that introvert leaders are a good thing?

  3. The three pillars of leadership development are being, knowing, and doing. I have become a better leader by applying each of these in my life. The doing part has been more difficult for me because I am so set in my ways that its hard sometimes to practice something else. Many business leaders today are disconnected with the employees they mentor. Part of the issue is that our main technique of developing leaders is averse to the kind of leadership we want. Therefore, leadership development needs to inspire being-level dimensions, the learning skill needs to propose stillness and space for deliberate observation. It’s tough to teach how to be. Training individuals with tools and representations is very diverse from just holding a space for leaders to be. I have found that giving contributors experiences, such as attentively walking outside in nature or sitting soundlessly in peer groups to listen to classmates share their lives allows leaders to go into their inward world as a powerful tool for educating the vigorous skills of purpose and self-awareness discipline.

  4. Yes, the quiet times help in regaining strength! I also believe that leadership is all about service, team work – introverts have that in them!

  5. I really realized my leadership potential with creative insights to conquer our extremely extroverted world.

  6. My inclination….Introverts internalize introspects intuitively Extroverts exhibit as excessive, exuberant extremists, excelling externally ,exceeding in expectations expediently, existing while insisting, exemplifying existence inclusively but excluding
    introverts as incapable, incompetent and incoherent, yet we are in tune,intelligent and internally and externally in-sync. Exactly ….

  7. Extroverts are often charismatic and can bring people together. Introverts are the creative minds that give insights toward revolutionary futures.

  8. Introverts should lead, and do lead often times, but behind the scenes. Extroverts are great at communicating ideas that introverts created.

  9. As former Introvert turned unafraid, You have to give up one thing: the fear of other's judgement. You can not give off the vibe of fear. Yes, it is hard, but you have to have confidence in yourself. Confidence comes from doing the little things and being successful. If you don't believe in yourself no one else will.

  10. extroverts = money and self interest, introverts = humanity and self improvement. since extroverts love all those $, they don't want introverts to take over.

  11. Most people don`t like me too be myself, but screw that, then they wouldn`t like me no matter what I waz like, know what I mean?

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