According to a study cited by Susan Cain in her TED Talk, "The Power of Introverts", a third to half the people on the planet are introverts. So, just to be clear - introverts are in your team, your family, everywhere.
So where's that unconscious bias, you may wonder. Some are extroverts, others introverts - big deal, right? Here's the big deal - our school systems are geared toward extroverts, our media landscape touts the wonders of extroverts, office spaces favor extroverts ... and when it comes to leadership - introverts are often passed over - they're haven't been outspoken, they haven't been heard half as much as the extrovert. We've been geared to subconsciously assume that the extrovert must be the better expert, the better/stronger choice.
Understanding introverts: Check out this excellent (and beautifully drawn) infographic
Introverts are often mistaken as being shy - no! That's not the same thing, far from it. Shyness is about fear of social judgment. Introversion is about preferences and stimulation. While the extrovert thrives on open, group, loud - the introvert is at his/her best in quiet surroundings. I've written about creativity and the phenomena of Groupthink before. We need our caves of solitude to come up with the great stuff. But how do we tackle the rampant unconscious bias surrounding introverts?
There's top-down and there's bottom-up - there's the leadership and then there's the individual. As the individual I'm with Carl Jung in thinking that we're not either or - we have both sides, with either the introvert or the extrovert simply being the dominant side. As individuals we can do a lot - we can get to know ourselves, we can learn how we tick and learn how to use our less dominant side when required. As a writer by trade, I'm an introvert at heart - I could spend weeks and weeks in my cave and write and be creative and thrive - sigh - the mere thought is bliss. But at the age of 19 I went against my introvert grain and out into the world - and discovered my extrovert during those journeying years. For me, it is about balance - today most people probably think me an extrovert and I'm comfortable playing that role. But I wouldn't be half as centered if my writing didn't allow me the continued quality time on my own - my treasured solitary time.
Now how about leadership? How should leadership tackle this unconscious bias? By the way - Unconscious Bias is a huge topic that's continually addressed as part of Swiss Re's Diversity & Inclusion efforts (see the Iceberg Model on the right to learn about the many issues). We tackle UB with articles, videos, e-learnings, in-person trainings. We're on a path and that's what matters - the best we can do is continually raise awareness about the many habits, the countless things we do without thinking. UB is something that will never be overcome - but something we all can take responsibility for, within our own sphere of influence and beyond - see something? Call it. How will open space offices deal with introverts - knowing that they thrive, are at their best and most creative for the company, if they're in quiet surroundings? How will line managers be able to compare/reward their extrovert and introvert team members fairly? I'm sure you're working with introverts - heck, chances are, you are one yourself. How do you experience this unconscious bias?
JIVE has made a huge difference, for me personally, and for the company as a whole. Social platforms are amazing in many ways - one of those ways is that they're a perfect solution for introverts. From the solitude of their caves they can strut their stuff, vibrantly, on their own terms, for the world to see.