Yes, you read it right. I am one of those kinds, people like to call as shy, reserved, and quiet… an Introvert.
My whole life until last year, when I started studying human psychology, I too accepted the fact that I belong to those categories of people who just speak less and love to keep it to themselves. Little I knew the fact that it’s my introverted nature that defines me what a designer I am, and there revolves a science around this nature of introversion and extroversion. During the same time, when I was chosen by my organisation as a budding manager, I got an opportunity to enrol myself in the “First Time Managers” program to understand myself as a prospective leader & hone my leadership & managerial skills. Here I list down few things that worked for me in this journey.
Channelise your energy where it matters!
A key difference between an introvert and an extrovert is where they gain their energy from. Introverts are typically recharged by peace & solitude while extroverts are charged by the energy of people around them. As an introvert, I recharge when I am alone or perhaps with a few close friends or family members. I may enjoy meeting new people and socialising with peers, but I always look forward to relaxing at home with a book or a good Netflix afterwards.
This got me into thinking that if it’s really about the energy, how can I channelise it in the right direction? 🤔
As a UX professional, our job expects us to ask good questions, and to frame things in the right way. And therefore, listening in the right way too is the key skill for a UX Designer to master. Introverts have a very natural precedence here because they tend to listen more and speak less 😃 . They spend so much of their time observing things & people around them and their peace allow them to imbibe & analyse things calmly and meticulously. Finally, they can utilise this power in affinity mapping, drawing out patterns & discovering the opportunity spaces. Kudos Introverts! We just got the sh*t done without even putting additional energy. 🙂 And that’s what we need to keep on doing by channelizing the energy where it matters
You need to be assertive. Period.
At Designit, I noticed that a lot of designers turned leaders tend to be more outgoing than introverted. And as an Introvert, I made a perception that to climb up the ladder, I need to be more outspoken than reserved. This constant battle between my nature of introversion & my aspiration to grow was noticed by my mentor Udhaya (UKP) & he helped me understand how I don’t need to change my personality, I just need to be more assertive.
Being assertive isn’t a psyche trait. It the way how you communicate and express yourself while still being a modest, shy or an introvert to the core of your nature. Assertiveness is more focussed towards a fruitful communication where your objective to deliver a message is achieved & you feel confident with the way of doing it. In my case, adopting the way of speaking slowly & a bit louder helped a lot. Practising this ritual instilled more confidence in me while speaking & I could convince the people without being the loudest voice in the room.
Use situational leadership
‘Know thy user’ — a mantra for usability specialists says understand your audience and design for them. Just like that, a good leader is all about the right leadership, at the right time understanding the people you are leading.
Different members in the team may have a different style of working, so it’s imperative that their leader must also adapt and improvise to the situation at hand and relative to the person in concern. Again showing empathy at times helps the leader to understand and choose the correct course of action.
Know more about situational leadership.
Retain your authenticity & bring it to work every day
Be the best version of yourself, The person your family and friends see; the one that makes you feel “You”. You’re a leader and have earned your place but that doesn’t mean you have to be reborn & enact how someone else expects you to be as a leader.
In the leadership world, people appreciate authenticity. If people can see you as one of them, you don’t need to establish a semblance & ultimately they will respect you more for it. And when sometimes you are asking for help, you’ll allow others to step up and prove their mettle too. People will appreciate it when you share your stories and help others learn. Empathy is a two-way street. When people relate with you as someone paving their way through the hurdles, you’ll create empathy as people relate to your aspirations, trepidations, and motivations.
You’re a human, not a robot, and therefore fallible, just like everyone else! People make mistakes, and so do leaders. The key is to accept, move on and avoid making the same mistake again!
And that’s what leadership is all about from an introvert designer’s point of view…! Not about knowing all the answers & react, it’s rather all about having compassion, empathy and willingness to act. So my fellow introvert designers, embrace this unique power you have, be open to challenges, channelise your energy, be assertive and most importantly - be human!