Category Archives: Leadership

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The Content Era: Thought Leader Thursday Featuring Ben Woelk

Category:Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership,Lessons Learned

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Listen to the recorded session from Thursday, July 21st on The Content Era: Thought Leader Thursday hosted by Tom Aldous, where I spoke about Introverted Leadership and my leadership journey. I also shared how I’m leveraging my STC Summit 2016 presentation, An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership, to mentor introverted leaders and start building a virtual community to discuss issues affecting them and share resources.

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The Content Era’s “Thought Leader Thursday” hosted by Founder and CEO, Tom Aldous, brings up intriguing concepts with industry’s top Thought Leaders to keep you questioning the assumptions. Tune in Thursdays at 1PM EST as Tom picks the brains of some of the brightest minds we’ve come across.

This week Thought Leader, Ben Woelk joins Tom Aldous. Many of us might agree that Western society lauds extroverted leaders and their accomplishments. However, introverts make great contributions and can be effective leaders too. There are many introverts who may feel unsuited or unequipped for leadership but are not sure how to take that next step to increase influence and improve visibility. Ben will share key steps he took and experiences that have helped him become a successful leader and share recommendations for how introverts can leverage their innate skills and flourish in the workplace.He’ll also discuss how he’s using Slack to build a virtual community to support introverted leaders.

Listen to the recorded session.


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Summit Proceedings: An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership

Category:Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership

One of the responsibilities for STC Summit presenters is to provide a paper for the Proceedings that are intended for use by libraries and instructors. Here’s my contribution:


Many of us might agree that Western society lauds extroverted leaders and their accomplishments. However, introverts make great contributions and can be effective leaders too. Many of us are introverts who may feel unsuited or unequipped for leadership, but are not sure how to take that next step to increase influence and improve visibility. Have you wondered how to empower yourself and leverage your innate skills to become a leader? This paper shares my personal insights and my leadership journey from shy team member to recognized leader. I’ll also share key steps I took and experiences that have helped me become a successful leader.
I am an Introverted Leader, despite outward appearances.
My introversion informs my approach to leadership.
I believe that self-understanding and leveraging introverts’
strengths have made me a better leader.

What is an Introvert?

NOTE: Please regard this section as a generalization. Individuals will differ.
Extraverts focus on the outer world of people and things. They tend to be active and have a wide breadth of interests. They understand things through experience. They may be reward seekers and desire fame. They are energized by contact and activities undertaken with others.
Introverts, on the other hand, have a rich inner thought life of ideas. They tend to have a depth of interest, preferring specialization to a breadth of knowledge. They may mull over thoughts and concepts, but not express those thoughts verbally or externally. Introverts recharge themselves by withdrawing from the hubbub to places of quiet and solitude.

How Introvert Strengths Apply to Leadership

Think of introverted leaders. Examples include Albert Einstein, Steve Wozniak, and Abraham Lincoln. What made them good leaders? Those are the characteristics introverts may want to emulate. Einstein is known for his depth and clarity of thought (and his genius). Although
Steve Jobs is the most well known leader of Apple, Wozniak was responsible for many of the innovations. Abraham Lincoln was not gregarious, yet was able to think and act strategically and provide leadership during what may have been the most trying times for the United States.

How I’ve Made it Work for Me

My strengths include my ability to identify gaps, my desire to make a difference, practicing a servant leadership model, and pursuing excellence. I’m also competitive. (That competitiveness can be both a strength and a weakness. I can push myself and others towards goals. However, I have an innate desire to win at whatever I’m engaged in.)
By no means do I consider myself to have “arrived,” but I am surprised by how far I’ve come. Most of my professional growth has come in the last 20 years. I never envisioned myself as a leader and certainly didn’t believe that I’d be able to stand in front of a crowd and still be able
to speak articulately. Although there are many formative steps I could look back on, building on small successes, reading about and better understanding introversion, understanding how I communicate best, and understanding my personality type (MBTI) have probably helped the
Growth opportunities include:
  • Overcoming conflict avoidance
  • Overcoming reticence
  • Not over-analyzing
  • Harnessing competitiveness


An introvert can employ a number of different strategies:
  • Network: Stop avoiding events
  • Understand how you work best. Get to know yourself. Take a personality assessment.
  • Let others know how you process
  • Leverage social media
  • Communicate in multiple formats
  • Recharge!
Cain, Susan. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (New York, NY: Crown), 2012.
Kahnweiler, Jennifer B. The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength (Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers), 2013.
Keirsey, David. Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence (Delmar, CA: Prometheus Nemesis Book Company), 1998.
Laney, Marti Olsen. The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, (New York, NY:
Workman Publishing Company), 2002.
Petrilli, Lisa. The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership Kindle e-Book (Chicago, IL:C-Level Strategies), 2011.
_______, Jung Typology Test,
Accessed 4/11/2016.

Author Biography

Ben Woelk
Former Director, Society for Technical Communication; ISO Program Manager; Information Security Office, Rochester Institute of Technology; Security Guru; Introvert; INTJ; CISSP; Author of Shockproofing Your Use of Social Media: Staying Safe Online (Kindle).
From “An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership,” 2016 STC Technical Communication Summit Proceedings, 31-32

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Group Rules for Our Introverted Leadership Community

Category:Introverted Leadership,introverts,Leadership,Lessons Learned

Group Rules for Our Introverted Leadership Community

About three days into creating the Introverted Leadership virtual community on Slack, I realized it would probably be a good idea to set up group rules to create an atmosphere where we could share safely. The rules below are merged from a variety of sources.

I believe that a virtual community needs some guidelines for how to interact with each other.


I trust that none of you will take these rules personally. They’re not directed at any specific person. I just want to establish rules for conduct here before we have any issues.

I want this to be a group that builds each other up, helps us determine how to best leverage our strengths, and provides a safe place for what may become intimate discussions. Personalities are personal. Many of us are loathe to share our feelings or thoughts because we are afraid of being judged by others.

As I alluded to in my Summit presentation, introverts may have trouble talking about themselves and making themselves vulnerable in group settings. I want to encourage openness, so please read the group rules below. If you don’t feel you can abide by them, please remove yourself (or ask me to remove you) from this group.

Group Rules/Code of Conduct

  1. We are discussing introversion and personality types (among other subjects.) Please be sensitive in your comments and do not share personal information someone posts without his or her permission.
  2. Make sure to be relevant with your postings. Don’t post just to post or to have your name everywhere. Make sure that the topics you choose are relevant to the group’s interests. You can of course set up channels for whatever purpose. Use Direct Messages for conversations that don’t apply to the channel topic.
  3. Do not post inflammatory comments. Our users are established professionals. They did not join the group to argue with you. Also, posting inflammatory comments is a quick way to burn bridges in the professional community. I will not hesitate to remove anyone from this group if I believe they are not providing positive support.
  4. Do not sell to members. People do not join this Slack channel just so you can have access to spam them with personal e-mails.
  5. Do be a mentor. Sharing your expertise with others and helping them reach their goals is appreciated by all.
  6. Do not write anything in a Public Channel that you do not want out in the public. It may be a Slack channel but it is not a confidential group. Use Direct Messages for personal conversations. Only the people in Private Channels or in Direct Messages can read the content. However, anyone in a Private Channel or Direct Message is able to share that content. Do not betray trust.
  7. DO NOT use this Slack channel as your personal blog.
  8. Group moderators/admins reserve the right to ban any group member who violates either the letter or the spirit of these rules.
  9. This is group is not an official STC group.

In Closing

The essence of the rules is to maintain obstinate kindness. Maybe you’ll find them helpful for your virtual community, LinkedIn group, or forum.