Building a Virtual Introverted Leader Community
Anyone who is at all connected to me on social media has seen my Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter posts about the Introverted Leadership Slack Channel I’ve set up. I wanted to share what’s happened so far and my my vision for this nascent virtual community.
At the Society for Technical Communication Summit 2016, I presented An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership. The presentation is a brief discourse on my leadership journey and my thoughts on introverted leadership strategies based on my readings of Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking, Lisa Petrilli, An Introvert’s Guide to Leadership, David Keirsey, Please Understand Me II, many discussions with fellow leaders, and my own experience and observations at conferences and events.
My experience in in presenting An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership was profound and I was able to connect with attendees to a much deeper extent than I have experienced at other conferences. Keirsey talks about the ability for N’s to make instant connections. I saw that firsthand at Summit 2016. (I’m typically pretty reticent at home. Being able to make deep connections is not typical for me. I’m an INTJ and dread small talk.) (For those of you unfamiliar with Myers-Briggs and Jungian temperament studies, humanmetrics.com and 16personalities.com provide an overview.) Given the positive response at Summit 2016, I really wanted to extend the experience and find a way for introverted leaders to support one another.
Planning and Action
As an INTJ, I often spend a good amount of time in analysis and planning. I didn’t feel that I had that luxury. Conference connections can be ephemeral and excitement abates. I needed to act quickly. Three weeks ago, I knew next to nothing about Slack. On May 20th, I put up a Slack channel and recruited one my new “instant N” connections, Carrie Sheaffer (who had some familiarity with Slack), to help me administer it.
We are a little over two weeks into the creation of a virtual community. We’re at 81 participants overall. We’re discussing Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking at a leisurely pace of a chapter a week. (We’re currently at 22 team members in that discussion.) We’ll choose another book relevant to introverted leadership after Cain.
Although my primary focus was providing a forum for introverted leaders to support each other, I also saw an opportunity to create a study group for the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) exam. We’re currently at 25 students preparing for the exam and most of us will take it in October/November.
Building the Virtual Community
I’ve built the community by reaching out to the two professional organizations in which I’m involved, the Society for Technical Communication, and the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council Awareness and Training Working Group. (As you might imagine, there are a good number of introverts in both organizations.) I’ve also increased my LinkedIn contacts by about 200 connections to build my network and have shared An Introvert’s Journey to Leadership with that network. I don’t believe I’ve met more than 60% of the current team members face to face.
I have developed a passion for mentoring and coaching introverted leaders. I want this virtual community to provide a place for introverted leaders to talk safely about personality, the challenges their facing, and to encourage each other. (I realized a couple of days into building the Introverted Leadership Slack channel that I needed to provide group rules that I’ll share in a future post. The rules can be boiled down to a statement Garrison Keillor made during his Radio Romance tour that he was determined to lead a life of obstinate kindness.)
I will measure success based on how much we can accomplish goals derived from “I have seen firsthand how difficult it is for introverts to take stock of their own talents, and how powerful it is when they finally do.” –Susan Cain, Quiet, p. 7,
Will we build an enduring community? The jury is still out, but I’m excited about our first baby steps. We have discussions around introverted management, personality types, the CPTC, techcomm, and even a channel set up to facilitate playing Exploding Kittens.
I’ll provide occasional updates on our progress over the coming months, and I’ll also share how well our CPTC study group does on the exam.
It’s not too late to join us! If you’re interested, get in touch. I’m not hard to find.