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Shut up and lead

19 May 2011 No Comment

You rarely raised your hand in class. When you had free time, you buried your head in books. You thought being sent to your room was pretty cool.

You, my friend, are a natural born leader.


Yep, that’s what this article says. And it uses some pretty high-profile examples (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Charles Schwab) to make its point.

It all may seems a bit counterintuitive, especially when you see some of the flashier ‘rock stars’ in our business getting all of the attention. No doubt, those high-energy ‘Type A’ people can be great for motivating a team and lifting the spirits of an agency.

But watch out for the quiet ones.

We may not always be the life of the party but while the extroverts are busy captivating the crowd, we are busy doing something equally important—listening.

Ultimately, this is the key to the introvert’s success. We observe. We listen. We learn.

And thanks to the plethora of ‘virtual’ options at our disposal for staying connected (Facebook, twitter, email, text, IM), we have never been better equipped to share what we know with those around us.

That’s not to say that face-to-face communication doesn’t matter. It does, big time. But I would argue that when it comes to one-on-one or small group communications, the attentive introvert is often superior to his more chatty compadres.

When it comes time for the big show? Well, you gotta suck it up a bit and fight through it. Even the shyest people can become good presenters if they work at it. Just don’t fake it. Be genuine. Play to your strengths. Add insight. Bring warmth.

And if you need a little dog and pony? Well, get some help. A great leader knows that he’s not the best at everything. Find someone who is and put them to work.

There’s room for all kinds in an ad agency. But if you are naturally introverted, you may have convinced yourself that leading is just not your thing.


But you may be better off putting those superior listening skills aside for once and ignoring that particular voice in your head.

- TJ Bennett

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