• Lech Guzowski

WGT: Thriving introverts, Montessori education and the future of leadership [transcript]

Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with Aoife Lenox, introvert coach and trainer.


Description


Leadership is often associated with boldness and 'loudness' i.e. extraversion. "I think a lot, but I don’t say much" is a quote very well suited for this episode where together with Aoife Lenox we discuss the power of introverts and the untapped potential they possess if we only let them thrive.


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Transcript


Lech: [00:00:00] Hello, ladies and germs today, I'm talking to Aoife Lenox who's a introvert coach and trainer. She's the founder of Inside Strategies, where she designs training courses, runs workshops and webinars and coaches introverts. She's also an introvert herself, and this is what today's episode is going to be about. So we are talking.

Very much about introversion, how introversion fits into, our organizations. We talk about quiet leaders, Aoife shares her insights on what a quiet leader is and give some tips on how they can develop, how can innovation be made more inclusive in organizations. We also reflect on some of our schooling and our education that we both been through and how that has impacted us as individuals today.

We also talk quite extensively about the Montessori approach and its connection to leadership and the future of work. Here's my chat with Enjoy.


Aoife it's an absolute pleasure to have you with me today. I'd like to start with my usual question that I ask all my guests. And that is when you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?


Aoife Lenox: [00:01:33] I was little, I wanted to be the boss. I wanted to have my own business. And I remember we had a garage attached to our house and I remember setting up various businesses in there and I had to be the boss. I was in charge. So we'd coffee shops. We had dentist we little air, all sorts of things. So. I was a pretty bossy child, I believe for what I told them, what I remember, which is funny coming from the introvert.

So we can talk about that.

Lech: [00:02:05] Oh, we're definitely going to talk about introvert and a question. Do you think you were a good boss?

Aoife Lenox: [00:02:10] Hmm. I definitely, I think I had a different idea of what a boss was back then to what I think of I should be now for sure. Yeah. Yeah. So what as a boss back then, I was telling people what to do. I would have a different approach now,

Lech: [00:02:25] So a slight amount of micromanagement then

Aoife Lenox: [00:02:28] Possibly.

Lech: [00:02:30] Just a little bit just low. Well, listen, we, we, we, we live and we learn and that's kind of how we develop, but I guess you managed to achieve that because you are your own boss, aren't you?

Aoife Lenox: [00:02:42] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And this is my second business, so yeah, I left the corporate world in 2005, stayed home with my kids for a few years. And then an opportunity came up in 2008. Returned to live in Ireland because we had been living in the U S and to open up a Montessori school. And I did that for 10 years and finished in 2018.

Then in 2019 started this business inside strategy. So, yeah. And as you say, growing and learning the whole time.

Lech: [00:03:09] Brilliant. You actually, you have to quite quite surprised about the Montessori thing. I didn't realize that and coincides with when my sister had as a daycare centers, a couple of them and she's will be potentially converting one of them into Montessori baseline. I actually need to read up on Montessori, cause I don't know what that is.

I know it's an, a psychological approach, our guests to develop development or education. We actually need to educate myself a little bit more, what that entails.

Aoife Lenox: [00:03:33] And it's actually so fascinating because Maria Montessori, who starts at the philosophy, she was a woman just ahead of her time. And so much of her thinking about Montessori and how to create an environment for children to learn. I think applies. To organizations and leadership. So if I just give you one example, but like in a Montessori classroom, the goal is that you create a prepared environment.

So ideally the teacher shouldn't be seen almost or hers, if you do it right. And the children are able to work independently. And if you think about organizations and in my area of kind of introversion and quiet leadership, that's the goal like. That employees want a lot of autonomy. And the goal is to kind of create this environment where they can do their work and your, your job as a leader is to support them.

So I think there's a lot of parallels between the Montessori approach and kind of leadership and the future of work. So I'll send you some book recommendations to read and see what you think.

Lech: [00:04:31] Please do, please do that is actually fascinating. It goes, I was talking to. Andrea Strohmeyer she's a consultant she's going on business culture by design. And she was on, on the previous episode. And we were actually talking about looking beyond the organization of, we know we can only do so much within the organizations to help people develop, help people grow, but there will be a point where we will have to actually say to the systems before they get to other organizations.

So let's. In this example education systems, they need to change how they prepare people to go into the other organizations, because at this moment, it, there is already a big disconnect between the two. And I've got a feeling that gap is getting wider and wider and wider to the point. Controversially, I think that it will actually get to a, such a massive divide.

Well, the organizations are going to go, listen, you have to do something because we can't take the burden and it's, it's just causing way too much havoc. So I'll definitely be reading up on, on the Montessori approach. That's for

Aoife Lenox: [00:05:33] Yeah, I'd absolutely. And in Ireland, we have something what's called the leaving cert and that's the final exam students do in school. And it's still based on really industrial age, sort of, you know, kind of road learning. And I mean, it's changing slowly, but literally your entrance into college is based on this one set of exams.

At the end of school now COVID has been really interesting from that regard because last year, the exam didn't get to take place. And there's question marks as to whether it will this year. So it's actually causing a change, but I absolutely agree. And the children themselves. I have a 17 year old son.

They, they want a different approach and they want to be better prepared to go out into organizations and not to be forced to kind of learn, you know, information is available. Now people can, you can look anything up. Why do you have to learn it off, learn this road order. You can look anything off. And we need to prepare our people.

Differently as to how they go into organizations. So yeah, I agree. There's a big disconnect. And it's interesting because in Montessori, in the early years, they're actually prepared for critical thinking and all these things that we want. And then they're sent into schooling and they're taught to sit at your table and don't speak for, you know, on this or asked a question, you know, so yeah, we, we, we need to change it up, but yeah, it's really interesting.

Lech: [00:06:49] Well, it's good. It's good to know that there are more and more initiatives like that because even looking at the people closest to me, for example, my nephew, he's 13 at this moment and my sister, who's a psychologist by trade and looks back and says, you know, we probably should have sent them to a different school in terms of the different approaches that would have benefit, benefited him a lot more.

He's an intelligent, bright kid. But he could have developed. Differently, I guess to say whether in a better way, but I think he would probably would be a more rounded teenager if he potentially was in a different system that suited him a little bit better. Because we get, we get this approach in school we've been taught to, to pass exams basically rather than critical thinking.

And then we go into a work environment. Where there's complete disconnect in how things are done. It's, it's actually quite shocking. And there are also fundamental differences between educational systems and I've gone through to at higher, higher education levels. So I've done a university degree and a bachelor's in Poland and I've done another bachelor's in in the UK.

Completely different subjects, completely different topics. Drastic difference to give you an idea. My first year at university in Poland, I had 40 hours of lectures and workshops per week 44 zero. When I got to the UK and throughout of my, throughout my three years, I had 12 hours of lectures per week. It felt like a holiday. It has, Oh, of course, a lot of independent work and stuff like that, but that's the difference. Independent work for critical thinking for different approach to learning versus cramming and keeping somebody in the school for 40 hours a week and just absolute information overload with topic. If there were, if the topics were useful, some of them were yes, but a lot of them were just genuinely gap fillers.

That's all they were.

Aoife Lenox: [00:08:43] Yeah. Yep. Yep. There's a really interesting book out called range by David Epstein. And he talks about students in UK schools versus Scottish schools. And because in UK schools, I guess it's probably like Ireland where you're kind of forced to specialize. Like you do a degree in something rather than a broad degree.

And I think in Scotland, maybe it's a slightly different system and that students in Scotland were less likely to change career. Eight years down the line. So when we're forced to specialize, because the whole premise of his book is the broader, the range of our experience and education. The more likely we are to kind of, we flexibility then to figure out where we fit in and where we want to go.

But when we're forced very early on to specialize. It's very hard then for us to figure out. So I did a degree in hotel and catering management. I had no idea what was involved in that. I worked in a hotel as a teenager. I thought it might be fun. And the month before I started my degree chefs uniform arrived.

And I was like, What is this? I have no interest in working in a kitchen of any source. And I had to endure two years of every Wednesday afternoon putting on the chef's uniform, because the idea was, if you want to be a hotel manager and run a hotel, you have to understand every aspect of the business.

And I get that. And, and, and that is true, but I, I haven't worked in a hotel since. And so really for me, that was injuring two years of learning to cook that I still not a great cook. So, you know, it just wasn't. So. I think you're really, I, you know, and as I say, I have a 17 year old and I was starting to think about what he's going to do.

I would just love to see a lot more flexibility in our educational offerings and that people get to try. And even in, in high school as a secondary schools, try out photography, tryouts, psychology, try out, try everything, do a module on everything and see what you like and see what sticks. And really, you know, we talk about these words of passion and purpose, but.

We're not really following through on them or not. You know, people don't really have the opportunity to follow the passion and purpose. It's a bit idealistic. I think.

Lech: [00:10:45] It's it's definitely it's, but you know, and I'm not being negative towards teenagers and people who deciding what to study at university when they're 18 or 19, but what do they know about their passions and their purpose? They exactly still experimenting. So having somebody commit to three, five years or what, sometimes even longer, depending on the area going into that's insanity

Aoife Lenox: [00:11:11] David Epstein in that book, he says you were making decisions for a person who doesn't even exist. Yes. Cause you're going to be different tomorrow to how you are today. And so at 80 and you're deciding on a career for a person that just doesn't exist. I thought that was really profound

Lech: [00:11:26] I love that. I love a love how, how that's framed because you can't in a way. Well, even when you finish, okay, you've chosen what you want to go into three years later, you ha you're what 22, 23, depending. And you have to face in this situation. What do I do? And what do people do? And I'll raise my hand.

That's what I did. You do another degree?

Because it's like, Oh my God, it's real life. I need to make a decision. Other one too. Event management. Sounds good. I'll do that. You know, I'm grateful. I'm genuinely grateful for both degrees that I did. First one was English studies. Second one was event management and the first one allowed me.

To go to the UK and study that because I've learned the language. I spoke English very well, but that brought me to a whole new level. It basically prepared me to be a, an English teacher, which I never was. But yes, I did do some tutoring on the side and some placements that was, it never got into that never actually had the willingness to do that, but essentially translation interpretation.

That was, that was the, that was the plan. But then that prepared me from a language point of view to study in the UK, but also now 15, 20 years down the line, however long it's been, it's actually come full circle for the simple reason that it prepared me to be a trainer, to be a teacher, to be a workshop facilitator.

And that's what I do now. So all in all it has connected and event management spoke to my project management side. And again, that's what I've been doing for many years. And that's why I do to a certain extent now. So it does all connect while I had to go through that, I had to experiment and we have to give people that opportunity.

Aoife Lenox: [00:12:58] Yeah, and you're right. And a lot of other coaches trainers that I meet, they've never run their own business. And they say, I have no idea about marketing, no idea about finance. And I'm so grateful now for my business degree, because even though I to endure all the different classes, but, but it stood out to me because yeah, you have that knowledge.

And that's what, what David FCS says in the book range as well. He says like, you know, we have to Pay homage to the value of white experience and how that can apply then to lots of different situations, rather than saying, you know, you should be an expert or you should specialize because actually when you have a broader range of experience, you can apply that to different situations.

And that's really valuable. And you bring an outside in perspective too, which is really good, right? So you can see different ideas and maybe problem solve a little bit better too. So it's really interesting.

Lech: [00:13:43] Well, we, we need different types of people with different skill sets, both experts and generalists. Obviously I'm biased because I am a generalist and that's what I thrive by doing all sorts of things to a pretty good standard. But not an expert in any of them, but that's, that's fine because then I love working with experts.

I love going to somebody who knows a lot, Matt, a lot more than I do in a certain area and saying, listen, I need your help. I need guidance. I need you to potentially do something for me because you're the expert. And that kind of, when I was project manager, that's what I used to do. I didn't know, I didn't have to know what people did, but I trusted them that they know what they're doing because they're specialists in the areas.

So you tell me what to do, but what needs to be done. I believe you will work that out. And that's kind of how I, to, to the often frustration of my superiors the, I didn't keep close tabs on, you know, what's going on in the project I did because the projects were always delivered in time and under budget. But it was just done in a different way to con contrary to usual expectations. And I think that was more of a problem than me actually, letting people do things their own way, that people, my management and my superiors were, you know, you shouldn't be doing that, but Hey, hope

Aoife Lenox: [00:15:01] Yeah. And your skill was actually in, in bringing the experts together and getting the best out of people to come together, to get the project done rather than kind of micromanaging. And, you know, you let you let people do what they do well, which is good.

Lech: [00:15:13] Exactly. And then you'll, you'll surprise with the positive results or sometimes with spectacular failures,

Aoife Lenox: [00:15:19] Yeah. And you

Lech: [00:15:20] a

place like exactly. It has a, you know, famous of a, have a place

Aoife Lenox: [00:15:24] exactly.

Exactly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I was writing something this morning and for a course that I'm working on and it was a quote by was Winston Churchill. And he said success is a failure after failure without losing enthusiasm, something like that. So

you just keep going, keep trying.

Lech: [00:15:41] just keep going. Is it w is it his quote or a partial quote? If you're going through hell, keep going.

Aoife Lenox: [00:15:48] Yeah. Yeah. That's great. I don't know. Is it? Yeah, but that's great.

Lech: [00:15:53] Pretty set. It is. I'm going to double check that. So please don't hold me to that, but I think it is. And again, you know, if you have tough times, tough times, just keep going sooner or later, they would pass it.

Even relating that to maybe not necessarily, it was hell, but going through a degree that you don't see the purpose of the point of like you did. Five 10, 10 years down the line, you know, all those skills that I acquired then when I was actually hating it so useful, so handy because they shaped you as a human being.

Aoife Lenox: [00:16:22] Yeah. Yeah. And as my husband said, I wouldn't have met him if I hadn't done that degree. So there you

go. You never

Lech: [00:16:27] Ah, you should, you should have led with that. Don't worry. In, in, in, in post edit I'll, I'll put that in as your first answer, just in case your

Aoife Lenox: [00:16:34] He'd be happier with that. Yeah, exactly.

Lech: [00:16:36] Eva, you, you experts in introverts extroverts, you, we S we recorded a podcast previously on that very topic in remote work environments. And obviously that's something that I'd love to pick your brain on, in more broader context of personality, types culture and passivity, and everything around that.

Aoife Lenox: [00:16:57] Well, I'll challenge. One thing that you said, I'm definitely not an expert, but I'm an introvert and I'm, I'm really. Interested in this area and I'm learning, I think every day. So, but, you know, building on our previous comment of experts and specialists, but I suppose I do specialize in looking at this area.

But yeah, I definitely don't claim to know at all, certainly at this stage.

Lech: [00:17:19] You definitely know more than I do and more, definitely more than a lot of people that's for sure. And whether somebody is an expert is dependent. I believe that it's dependent on the person's point of view. So from my point of view, I, I see, definitely see you as an expert because you know, more than I do.

So he would be the person that I'd go to only similar to you tend to avoid the word expert or classify myself as an expert for that reason. As I said, it just depends on who's who's, who's kind of consent that's one. The second element is. Because I'm always learning. I'm always developing. So I specialize in something.

I wouldn't necessarily call myself an expert, brought more than a stoop, more, more a student of the topic of the area that I will continue learning throughout probably my, the rest of my career. Tell us a little bit more about kind of your view on, on introverts and extroverts and how all of that fits into company culture.

And I'm perfectly keeping this broad. To let you have the opportunity to kind of start where you think it's most important.

Aoife Lenox: [00:18:19] Yeah. Great. So look, I was 41. Before I picked up my first book on being an introvert and it w really came from the situation actually of running my own Montessori school. First I'm running a business, leading a team, and I suppose coming up against all the different challenges and it was coming towards the end of, of running that business.

I knew I was going to be selling it the following year. And it was kind of like, what am I going to do with the rest of my life? What am I actually sushi to? What do I do? Well, And this book just popped out with me and, you know, I never would have described myself as an extrovert, but I never reflected on whether was I an introvert?

What does it mean to be an introvert? What's the impact of being an introvert? So that was really the starting point for me. So I've spent the past four years looking at this area of being an introvert particularly around career and business. What is the impact is there any impact And, you know, maybe from a leadership perspective, how do you, how do you engage your team and, and how do you, do you need to change things at all?

And as we're talking about culture, you know, I suppose, what, what, again, what, what influence or impact culture has, or vice versa in somebody fitting into an organization and engaging with them? So I suppose what I found to maybe just summarize kind of some of the theory around it is that our temperament, whether we're leaning more towards introversion or extroversion is determined about 50% genetic and 50% based on our own experience.

So we definitely carry. A large part of us with us. So many of us can learn to adapt. We put on a work mask, we can adopt characteristics to fit into whatever we have to do. So, you know, if you find you, okay, I'm an introvert that doesn't define you, that doesn't need to hold you back in any way. But I think it does help to have an awareness of your personality or your temperament and reflect on how that might be impacting you.

So for me, I hated conflict. I found challenging kind of challenging somebody on something really difficult. I'm a perfectionist. So making mistakes was a big issue. Confidence was becoming an issue. I had my own style of leadership, which is kind of, what's now termed quiet leadership, which is kind of a queued style of leadership and fits really well into the future work.

But I didn't know I was actually doing that. I just thought I wasn't assertive enough. So all of these things. We're coming up for me. And then I read this book, the introvert entrepreneur, and that introverts have a whole range of strengths that actually make you really powerful and really strong. And you just need to be aware of them and tap into them.

And so that that's really the mission, I suppose, that I'm on today. It's to, how do we create meaningful work experiences with with this awareness of our personality and what we can do with us.

Lech: [00:20:56] That's a fascinating journey. And I remember our previous conversation. And one of the things it's, I always thought, you know, I'm, I'm a mixture of both which I always kind of found a little bit strange, but our previous conversation opened kind of a mind to, to the whole concept that I think a lot of people actually also struggle with or get wrong.

You've said that yourself is that we often. We class ourselves, I'm an introvert or I'm an extrovert. It's one or the other. When in reality, that's not true. It's dependent on so many circumstances. Most of all, depending on the environment that you're in. And I, from my side, know that with people I know, or in kind of one-on-one interactions, I'm more of an extrovert when I go into a group environment with people that I don't know, and I don't feel confident.

My go-to mode is observe. Well, I'm kind of the fly on the wall there. If I'm asked a question, I'll contribute, but I'm not going to go out of my way. I'll kind of more listen to people. And I think that's where a lot of time we think that we have to be, they'll be kind of conditioned that we say we're one of the other older personality types tests and things like that.

Fantastic tools. Definitely. I love using them and I've actually. But later on, I'd like to pick your brain on what's your favorite one, but they, they shouldn't be taken as gospel that your, your, this you're pigeonholed. Because again, as, as we said, at the start of this conversation, we are all molded in different ways and shaped in different ways for our lives by experiences and, and schooling that we get and things that we've tried doing and work in that you can't be.

One thing or two things it's, it's multiple things actually shape you. And I think the introvert and extrovert thing within the workplace is a fascinating topic in that respect. What have you seen in, in managing introverts and extroverts? Would that within the work that you do that organizations often get so often get wrong or misunderstand?

Aoife Lenox: [00:22:58] Yeah.

I think the biggest thing is the emphasis that the introvert is the person who needs to change. And trying to get the more reserved, cautious, serious, quieter personality type, trying to push them. You have to speak up, you have to do the presentation. You have to develop that skill you have to. And I suppose that I'd ask the question why like, Looking at your processes and how you do work.

Like, is there another way to do this? You know, and I had a conversation yesterday with somebody around you know, having a brainstorming session with 14 people. And how do you make sure that everybody contributes? And it was actually afterwards, I was reflecting on it. And really what you need to say is why do I need to have a brainstorming session with 14 people?

Because the brainstorming session will naturally suit the more extrovert personality, because extroverts talk to things. So they talk it out in order to manage process, but introverts, think to talk, they process internally. So having a brainstorming session with 14 people is never going to suit an introvert who needs to take time to think.

So I think organizations take a step back and it kind of goes back to the conversation on Montessori. It's like, what is the best environment for everybody to thrive? What are the best processes that we put in place? And if we're doing something one way now, and people are contributing, you're speaking up.

But rather than thinking, this person has to change, maybe change the environments. So in the Montessori classroom, if we had challenging behavior, we would always take a step back and look and see what are we not doing? Right. What are we not getting right here? That's triggering this child to act up in the classroom, rather than saying, he's got to go into timeout corner, or he's got to do this, or he's whatever.

We look at the environment. So I think that's what organizations are not getting. Right. And that's what they need to change. And that's how we create environments where everybody thrives, because you've got this flexibility, this openness, where everybody can be the best they can be really, rather than saying it has to fit one personality or another.

Does that make sense?

Lech: [00:24:58] It does make sense, but I'm going to play devil's advocate here and I'm going to be one of those managers, leaders, business elements who says, if I'm all nice, sun's all nice and good. I don't, I don't have the time. I don't have the resources to kind of be modeling, modeling, modeling the, the quiet people who don't really contribute and, and all, all sorts of things.

It's now. What do you say to arguments like that? Which often maybe not spoken, but you can sense sense the, the, the energy that, that kind of that's there. How did you tackle that?

Aoife Lenox: [00:25:29] Yeah. So, so what do you do then with statistics? Let's say that only 15% of employees are highly engaged at work. So that's some gala and Gallup would say that if employees are not highly engaged, they're looking for a job they're on the job ads every second day. So the question then is, do you want to keep your staff, do you want them to be engaged?

Do you want them to perform? They say there's a 33% productivity gap from, from introverts not being fully engaged in the workplace. So, and I think. The environment is actually going to change is actually going to force this change. And we've seen this with the pandemic organizations have been forced to change forced to work remotely forced to look at how they do things.

I just finished reading a great book, corporate rebels, and like these two guys have traveled around the world and they've looked at organizations that have taken really progressive approaches to make work more fun. And they've tried crazy stuff, which might sound crazy, but actually not, not so crazy.

And they've seen how it worked. So for the manager who's reluctant to change. I would say it's going to come to a stage where you actually don't have a choice and you're actually going to have to move with it. And we talk about being agile and Jake with the environment is going to force businesses.

To change, you have to keep up and even, you know, have a friend who works at a very traditional organization, big multinational, and she's talking about a performance review and it just to me, because my head's in a different space now, it just sounds so archaic that her boss could just give her a specific piece of feedback.

When I know she's put blood, sweat, and tears into her work over the past year, you know, so. I think, you know, if you're that manager, you can, you can stay on that road if you want. But I think you're going to be forced off at, at a certain stage. Cause I think people are demanding, you know, and, and we talked about education, right?

And young people coming up into the workforce and millennials and gen Z and all that. They're gonna make it happen. They're gonna, you know, they're, they're not going to tolerate us really. I mean, I have a 17 year old and he's like, I'm never going to work for that. I'm never going to do that, you know?

Okay. He might, might have to, when he's got bills to pay and so forth, but they're going to have the energy and the motivation to change. I think they will. So I feel, I feel pretty inspired by younger people too, and their motivation to change.

Lech: [00:27:46] Speak to them. That's for sure. I often find myself talking to people and I, when I, obviously, you, your, your friend that you mentioned going through PDPs, or, you know, all sorts of development plans at works and and, and big corporations and things like that. And I often. Find myself talking about them.

And before I realized I am ranting about it to somebody I'm talking to, you know, because I'm so well enough about how things are done and I'm just going, Oh my God. And I've got these visions that, and I've mentioned this many times on this podcast is that I often feel and think I'm unhinged, IB should be confined to mental asylum for some people who are way too idealistic about these things of how organizations should be.

But then. Every now. And again, we'll usually when, when I feel, I think that something happens, I discover a new person, new company that does something that I've never had to find them going. Actually, you know what? I'm not unhinged, I'm not an idealist because somebody is already doing that. So it's just a question of us investing more time and effort into that, becoming the norm rather than the exception.

And then, then I think it's like, I'm not an idealist if it already exists. We just need more efforts in that. And as I said, Godspeed to, to, to your son and all the next gen kind of the generations ahead of us. So kind of going into that we, you and I, and many other people are doing our best to help that and kind of set them up for that, for that success, I believe.

Aoife Lenox: [00:29:12] I'm with you on, on the idealism. And. Yeah, we, we just, we need managers and leaders to start making some of these changes and that's really what needs to happen. And it's through these conversations and just spreading of this word, I suppose, as well, I think is really, really yeah, we'll get there.

Lech: [00:29:30] We'll we'll get there. We'll, we'll get there, but actually the kind of, I wanted to bring it to the, to the next level, quite literally of, of company structures. You mentioned just managers and leaders who need to do certain things. What's your take? What have you observed when it comes to introverted leaders?

Aoife Lenox: [00:29:47] Yeah, really interesting. And in the conversation I had with somebody yesterday he gave the example of a leader within an organization who presumably was, was introverted. We don't know. Because he was getting the perspective from one of the employees that inter that introverted leader was coming across as very standoffish.

And wasn't openly interacting with everybody, but they were probably a quiet leader. They were probably introverted themselves. So I suppose introverted leaders can do a few things. First of all, they're great role models. And I think more introverted and leaders need to share. Their experience of being an introvert and being a leader.

Secondly, the approaches that introverted leaders take, the quiet leadership kind of strategies are really powerful because they're the kind of approaches that will promote, I think the flexibility and the change within the workplace. So not so much of the top-down approach, but giving employees a lot of autonomy, a lot of freedom putting the emphasis on check-ins like one-to-one check-ins and coaching.

And building those relationships, which as you said, like in a one-to-one scenario, introverts are generally more comfortable rather than having the big team meetings and, and, you know, meetings have been shown to be pretty ineffective most of the time, really. So just, just eliminate an awful lot of those meetings and focus on the one-to-one.

So. I'm really excited because I think quiet leaders and introverted leaders can play a really, really important role in demonstrating how organizations can be structured in the future and, and building on their, their natural strengths of listening and empathy and curiosity, and building those one-to-one relationships and can create really flexible work environments that are really nice to work in. You know, so I think they play a pretty powerful, well going forwards.

Lech: [00:31:37] Trying to make this a little bit more practical. So people listen to somebody listened to this episode and is inspired to take action for them as a, because they had either an organization or they want to change their teams or their organizations. I know this is going to be such a broad question.

But what would you recommend that they do? Where did they start? Kind of resources that they use frameworks or, or any type of tests and things like that they can introduce to start building maybe that awareness and making these introductions into, into the business. Of course, apart from contacting you and saying, Aoife help, please.

Aoife Lenox: [00:32:15] Which I'm happy to do.

Lech: [00:32:16] Of course, of course I highly recommend that anyone does, but if they, if they want to do a bit of legwork before they contact you what would you suggest would be the starting point for them?

Aoife Lenox: [00:32:27] Okay. So if we have an introverted leader, is that of a team and they want to start having these conversations. Okay, perfect. Yeah. So. First of all drawing awareness, I suppose, having open conversations with your team and say, you know, talk about personality, talk about temperament, talk about your work.

So like, I don't think being an introvert is, is talked about or being an extrovert or talk about our differences and how we might approach things like the extrovert talks it out, the introvert process internally. So, so get some conversations going within your team. First of all building trust through those one-to-one relationships.

As an introverted leader. Sometimes it can feel like a little bit, I think, of a vulnerable place because I suppose our perception of leadership is this quite assertive, strong, confident person. So when you're not naturally that you can feel a little bit vulnerable. That's certainly where I felt as a leader.

And I felt like I should be more assertive and I should be more confident. It was only towards the end of running my business that I started to kind of. Be okay with the vulnerability, be okay with the openness and be okay with, I'm letting my, my team run with what they do really well. And I'm here as a support role rather than the leader.

So, so the leader themselves, maybe we'll have to go on a little bit of a, of a journey kind of reviewing their own strengths, reflecting on how they approach things, what they do well, and then identifying areas of growth, you know, so maybe, maybe whether it's having. Challenging conversations, maybe it's in giving feedback.

Those sorts of things can be, can be difficult. Sometimes how do you, how do you be influential as a leader, as a quiet leader, too? It can be challenging. And I think you can be influential and empowering through engaging your staff kind of rather than in, in a kind of very visual way, if that makes sense or suppose you're, you're influential in how you get the job done rather than being overly assertive and kind of, you know, commanding the room sort of search approach.

There's a great book, which I haven't read yet. And it's about submarine, captain and how he takes over running the submarine. And. They've been used to very command and control kind of approach. And he doesn't take that approach, but he says the people, his team are paralyzed at the beginning because none of them want to take the initiative themselves or make any decisions themselves because they've been used to being told what to do.

So he talks about his journey and kind of gashing them empower it, I suppose, using his quiet leadership style. And he managed to do that within the us Navy. You know, within a very structured traditional organization. And he got that submarine to be up to like the second best in, in the world or whatever, you know, which is really interesting.

So quiet leaders can be really influential. But you don't have to take the kind of command and control and micromanaging approach, and don't feel like you have to do that because I think you can feel like you should be doing something else. Cause it's kind of a softer style of leadership and sometimes it's seen as a bit weak, but it doesn't have to be.

Lech: [00:35:33] Yes, definitely that perception that if you're quiet, if you don't if basically, if you're not an extrovert, you're, you're the weaker one, because you don't say don't speak up and things like that, which I completely disagree with that that book they mentioned. Do you remember the title of advance?

Aoife Lenox: [00:35:46] The book I'm reading. I don't have it in front of me is nine lies about work. And he, the authors of that reference the submarine captain, you know, I can send it to you afterwards, if you

Lech: [00:35:56] That will be great because it rings about enough. I've definitely heard of this before, and I'm wondering where they might've been when we were speaking last time. That you've mentioned too, because I've definitely heard of that.

Aoife Lenox: [00:36:06] Yeah, and I have heard of it myself as well from other books and other references. So, and again, it's a book I have to read. So I'll send that to you afterwards.

Lech: [00:36:13] Hmm. Just mentioned, you mentioned vendor vulnerability, a book that is on my list. I've been meaning to read. Mostly because of the topic that the author specializes in is Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown. I've read her previous book of. Daring greatly, I believe, which is fantastic book.

Absolutely amazing. And it's all about vulnerability. And she takes that a step further in Dare to Lead, which applies the same concept because she, she studies vulnerability and she applies the same concepts to leadership. And what that means. And I'm actually quite surprised that it's taken me this long because it has been on my reading list for a long, long time.

And I haven't actually got to it considering how I'm fascinated by the topic. So I think I might move it up the, the order

Aoife Lenox: [00:37:00] Yeah, the, I dunno if some of your listeners might resonate with this, but, but something that comes up for, for introverts quite a lot is dealing with failure and. And making mistakes. And I just learned recently that we actually have these neural pathways. I think it's called error relative network. And they've done studies to show that certain people who are highly reactive and that actually would be introverts.

So introverts are highly reactive to the environment around them, which is why they get overstimulated and shut down. So people who are highly reactive actually have extra activities in these error, neural pathways. And so when you make a mistake, you feel it really deeply. And so I think that's where the vulnerability comes in as well.

Because if you react heavily to a mistake that you've made, it's very difficult to be vulnerable. So you really have to adopt, you know, the growth mindset in that we're all human, we're all learning. It's okay to make mistakes. What can I take from it? What can I learn from it? And that's where the vulnerability and the openness.

And that's certainly the journey that I've been on, but I see that passion with introverts as well, which is interesting.

Lech: [00:38:09] That's fine. That's fascinating. And I'd love to, I'd love to learn a little bit more about that, cause I never considered it so deep on a physiological level. I know that a lot of times we like we've got gut feeling and that's associated with just. Our kind of primal brain, or however you want to call that that is not able to speak because it hasn't developed in that part of the brain that did it, but it lets us know through different ways.

And how often, right. It is that there's those times some so Dasia and I think. If I remember right. Simon Sinek talks about that. When in this concept of the golden circle, starting with why that it's so important, because the why sits in that original, very kind of primal part of our development brain.

However you want to call that. And it's a fascinating topic.

Aoife Lenox: [00:38:58] And that helps people who want to, to stretch and grow. And if, as an introvert, you find your you're being held back, you focusing on the purpose, it really does help. I mean, I've done podcasts, presentations, webinars that I never thought I would do, but because I feel passionate about what I'm talking about, that helps get you over the line, you know?

So, so the why of what you're doing is really important.

Lech: [00:39:23] and you are considering launching your own podcast now, aren't you.

Aoife Lenox: [00:39:28] I know now I've said it publicly twice. I'm going to have to do as

Lech: [00:39:32] I, I might have done that on purpose, but we'll, we'll, we'll never know. I

guess we'll see. We'll see. I, I I'm, I'm sure it would be a fantastic, fantastic show to be able to listen to. And also one of the reasons is because. We could be talking about this forever. I'm not at that stage yet where this podcast can be a Tim Ferriss or Jacko Wilnik , which is, can be three plus hours.

But this topic is so important and even a three hour podcast episode would not make it, do it justice. So yeah. I think there's definitely a need for a dedicated to one I will strongly encourage you to do, and I will point everybody in your direction if you, if you do do that other than potentially launching a podcast in the future, what have you got coming up in the next few months that you're really excited about?

Aoife Lenox: [00:40:17] So I have been working on content for a course that I'm developing. So I want to have an online course out there so that people have that resource to go to. And I think it's a good starting point. If you were thinking to get coaching that maybe you'd take the course first because it gives you a lot of information and awareness about the experience of being an introvert.

And so. I've been working on that for awhile, and that is my goal that needs to happen and get up. I've been procrastinating a little bit about it, but cause doing videos. Isn't my favorite thing to do, but yeah, so, so, so that's that's up there. My new website was launched in December, so inside strategies that I that's up there as well.

And I'm just continuing to build coaching and you know, working with organizations and consulting with them on, on how to create Meaningful work experiences for everybody. So, yeah, so it's, so it's exciting. It building a business is scary, vulnerable. It's a journey. But it's, it's great learning, so that's good.

Lech: [00:41:11] And so much fun when you get to that point of, of a milestone and you look back and you went and you go, damn, I'm, I've done that. I've done that. I never thought I never would. I got here whatever it might be. It's about celebrating those little wins and stop in there. And let's quite literally marveling at it.

And he'd say, yes, that's that's me. And that. Just remember that feeling next time, when you have to quite literally embrace the suck of something that you don't want to do. And you mentioned procrastination, I think it's also part of it. That's just how it is. I'll be sure to include links to your website and when the time is right to the, of course, and also the podcast whenever that arrives I'm putting pressure on you.

Uh, If it's been absolutely lovely talking to you. Thank you very much for, for joining me today.

Aoife Lenox: [00:41:56] Thank you so much.


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