Leadership is a Contact Sport
Have you been told you’re “too serious”?
Do you hate “small talk”?
Find that you prefer working alone in your office rather than with your staff?
Ever been accused of being aloof or ‘hard to read’?
Is leading your team a draining experience?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, chances are you’re an introvert. No, you don’t need psychoanalysis or medication. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. However, if you want your practice to be more productive and profitable you will need to “stretch” outside your interpersonal comfort zone.
Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish specific goals and objectives. As such, the basic nature of leadership is interaction between people. This is a dynamic, relational process aimed toward making the team more cohesive and powerful.
If you’re an introvert – or if you have introverts on your staff – this can be difficult. Introverts are not necessarily shy (although shy people are introverted). Shyness is about feeling anxious or frightened in social situations. Most introverts are not necessarily apprehensive. In fact, introverts can have great ‘people-skills’; they just find other people tiring.
Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. Through brain scans, we know that introverts process information by thinking and reflection. Introverts need time to mull things over. They need solitude to recharge and rejuvenate. For introverts, people are okay…in small doses.
In my coaching and leadership training with dentists, I have found that introverted dental leaders can be wonderfully warm and witty…with their patients. But when it comes to employees, they’re just worn out. Low on interpersonal fuel, many introverted leaders rely on hibernation – they retreat to their office and close the door. Employees are left on their own with little to no guidance, direction or support. It’s no wonder that teams can run amuck.
There’s no doubt that introverted dental leaders need time to tune out and recharge. I am not suggesting that you change your private nature and become a flaming extrovert, but you do need to shift your behaviors to engage more with your team. These are skills you can develop and practice.
Introverts can be outstanding leaders. They listen better. They think through issues in more depth than their extroverted counterparts. They are more focused. When they speak they are more concise.
On the other hand, introverts must remember to:
If you are an introvert, celebrate your strengths. Remember that your natural gifts are essential for team harmony. Your style can be calming and reassuring during stressful situations. Now it’s time to expand your skills. The key is to remind yourself and – as Nike says – just do it.
To learn more about your communication preferences and the impact on your practice, contact Dr. Haller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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