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									Attention Introverted Leaders
Written by: Shaun Killian http://leadershipskills.org.au This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Interpersonal Skills for Introverts Interpersonal Skills for Introverts • Attention Introverted Leaders • The Habit of Initiating Conversation

Minfulness of the Raisin According to personality type theory, you are either an introverted or an extroverted leader. Introverts prefer to spend their time attending to their own inner world of thoughts and ideas, while extroverts spend most of their mental energy on attending to the people and things around them. While many aspects of leadership such as planning, preparing well written communications and strategic thinking involve attending to our inner world, much of a leader’s work involves attending to the people the people they lead. When it comes to interpersonal leadership, extroverts have the advantage, especially when leading larger groups of people. Research suggests that staff are more comfortable with an extroverted leader and even view them as more participative regardless of whether or not they truly are. Does this mean that introverted leaders cannot lead well? Of course not. However, it does mean that in higher levels of management, introverted leaders will need to step outside of their preferred roles and adopt some extroverted behaviors. One of these is the simple act of externalizing your attention. There is a scene in the movie The Bourne Identity in which the CIA agent Jason Bourne explains to his civilian colleague how he has learnt to walk into a room and notice details ordinary people overlook. This is externalized attention in action. Externalized attention is what allows people to be good at fundamental social skills such
Attention Introverted Leaders © 2010

as remembering significant details, noticing things that you can comment on and showing a genuine interest in the people you are with. It requires that you consciously quieten your inner thoughts and pay full attention to the people and things around you. The act of externalizing your attention is not hard to do. However, as Aristotle once said, we are the sum of our habits, excellence therefore is not an act but a habit. The challenge is to turn the act of externalizing your attention into a habit. The good news is that you can practice externalizing your attention anywhere. Still your inner self-talk and focus on whatever or whoever is before you. Attend to what you can see, hear, smell, feel and taste. What do you notice that you haven’t noticed before? What else can you notice? Mentally note as many observations as you can. You can read how simple this is in the classic ‘mindfulness with a raisin’ exercise described in this transcript from ABC radio. So start taking a few minutes several times a day to still your mind and savour your coffee or be fully present with the person before you. The opportunities to practise are endless. It is through regular practice that you will develop the habit that comes naturally to extroverts and by doing so, improve your own ability to lead through relationships. Leadership Skills Australia
Enhance your leadership skills with practical advice you can trust leadership skills, management and leadership skills, leadership management, management leadership, leadership and management, management and leadership http://leadershipskills.org.au/leadershipmanagement

Attention Introverted Leaders

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