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Q&A with Cy Wakeman

Posted by Wakeman, Cy at Thursday, 01/17/2013 2:20 pm
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3.1 from 31 votes
Cy, I had the pleasure of learning from you (in person) when you presented to the attendees of Omaha's AIM IT Leadership Academy class of 2010. My positive feedback to other directors on your reality leadership base approach (RBL we now refer to it) has encouraged others to enroll in AIM or listen to your podcasts. Many of our front line leaders are engaged. Several directors and above, including our VP, have formed a weekly bookclub. We are reading and sharing our thoughts on RBL - Ditching the Drama.

Question - in reviewing Chapter 4 this week we wanted clarification on your thought process for including the question around social network contacts in the employee survey example. What do you view as the "social network", why the assessment on 150+, why the rating weight to accountability?

I am speaking of current sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. when speaking about “social networks” on page 66 of the book – Reality-Based Leadership. It is actually good to have more than 500 contacts. I used 150 as an indication that a person is at least trying to engage in social media networks.

Employee value is a combination of current performance, future performance, and emotional expensiveness (or lack thereof). Social networks fit into the “future performance” category. It is one way to cast your net wide to learn about what is happening in the world. It provides a way for you to know who your real competition is. It takes personal accountability to do whatever it takes to stay relevant. Failing to engage in this way is limiting a person’s future potential and limits learning.

I am introvert, but also a leader. I feel like I am judged all too often on my lack of words. I wish people knew that I'm not in a bad mood…. it isn't easy for me to make small talk with people. I know part of being a good leader is building relationships with my staff, but that is hard when you are an introvert. I feel I do plenty of communication with my staff when it comes to work, but outside of that it is difficult for me. My staff seem to be happy and seem to understand different personality styles. However, outside of my department it has now become an issue because of the opinion others have voiced of me. I've been told I am a poor communicator and need to improve. I don't disagree with this statement, but also feel I'm being judged because I'm not a socializer. What exactly is a poor communicator, and how do I become the social butterfly everyone wants me to be? I want to grow, but don't know exactly how to achieve this goal.

Did you know it is estimated that half the people in the world are introverts? Let me introduce you to one - me. In Western cultures, introverted qualities in a leader are not as valued. However, if I edit your story I hear the feedback is that you need to improve your communication skills NOT that you need to be an extrovert. Here are some suggestions for you
1.       Ask your team members and partners to give you specific examples of what they would like to see more of. Then do that.
2.       Believe that is is possible to be both a good leader who communicates AND an introvert.
3.       Read The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney
Identify another leader that is an introvert who you think is successful at communicating. Get some tips from him or her.

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