Do Introverts Pose a Problem for Hiring Managers?

Hello My Name is IntrovertIt was a genuine honor to be interviewed for a January 22nd Financial Times article on hiring introverts. It’s important to add that I feel compelled to say, as an advocate for introverts, the title itself was disappointing: “Introverts Pose a Problem for Hirers.” I say this because it feels we introverts are so often misunderstood and misjudged by many. 

Introverts, who represent 25-49% of the population depending on the study, represent a tremendous opportunity for hiring managers! Some of what I stated in the article, have said here on my blog and wrote in my Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership eBook:

Introverts get their energy from their inner world of ideas, images, and thoughts, and from creating deep connections with people… As a result, they are exceptional at creating and communicating visions for their company and teams and strategies that align with those visions. They can and do thrive in virtually any role but in a different way and with different strategies…they can also make excellent leaders: They create strong connections built on foundations of trust that inspire and motivate people to act.

Moreover, some studies have shown a correlation between being introverted and being gifted.

Thus, I believe it’s misleading to say, “introverts pose a problem for hirers.” Instead, I believe leading-edge, savvy hiring managers understand that introverts experience a traditional interviewing process differently from extroverts, simply because of how we get our energy. The process of meeting a number of people in a short amount of time will be energizing for extroverts and draining for introverts. It’s solely because of how we are innately wired.

I also believe knowledgeable leaders and talent management executives understand that there has been a misleading and naive implication by many in the past that introversion equals shyness or even poor social skills, which are some of the myths about introversion I have previously written about. Most introverts I have the pleasure of knowing and working with are not shy, have exceptional social skills, and are quite confident. I agree with Mr. Riccoboni who talks in the article about how the misconception can occur: from introverts taking time to respond to questions and inexperienced recruiters misjudging this as a lack of confidence. 

Additionally the article implies at the beginning that people who are “assertive, go-getting, and able to seize the day” are extroverts. Yet, introverts can be magnificently assertive, go-getting and can rise to any challenge – they will just do this differently than an extrovert will! They might make a bold and ground-breaking proposal to a CEO, but do it in a one-on-one meeting where they’re in their comfort zone. Or start an important corporate initiative with only one or two other stakeholders.

So, do introverts have a responsibility to rise to the occasion when going through an interview process? Absolutely. They must:

  • Take to heart that the keys to a great interview are confidence, a deep belief in oneself and in your self-worth, and
    preparation. These are attributes every one of us has the ability to cultivate, regardless of whether we are an introvert or extrovert.
  • Acknowledge that their reflective, thoughtful, insightful approach to questions is highly valued in organizations. Know this, be confident about it, and don’t apologize for it during the process…it’s not a weakness!
  • Recognize that interviews are draining and make the most of any opportunity to recharge during the process (say yes to bathroom breaks, a glass of water, any chance to breathe and re-center yourself). Just as importantly, recognize that this draining process does take you out of your comfort zone (often meeting a lot of new people at once). An inner commitment to keep your physical energy high is critical. Consider incentivizing yourself with a relaxing reward when the process is complete each day.
  • Clearly share the thoughts, images and visions that are beautifully cohesive inside their heads with the interviewer. This requires a lot of focus, eye contact, and paying attention to body language to make sure the interviewer is understanding all the brilliance they are sharing.
  • Toot their own horn. While not natural for introverts, I do give strategies on this in the Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership.

In doing all these things, introverts make it easier for smart, savvy interviewers to recognize the depth and breadth of their accomplishments, talents, and the immense value they will bring to the organization.

On the  whole, the Financial Times Article is excellent and does bring to light the difference in how introverts and extroverts often appear “at first blush,” and how they approach their work differently. Yet, I don’t think it’s fair to say they pose a problem for hirers. Am I wrong? What do you think? I would love to hear from you!

Photo by One Way Stock on Flickr.

The Introvert’s Guide: How to Ask for a Raise

shaking hands getting raiseThis is something I am wishing I had addressed in my eBook, The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership!

As I mentioned two years ago in, “5 Myths About Introversion from Harvard Business Review,” based on my Harvard Business Review blog post, being introverted is not the same as being shy. So, while shyness would not be a hindrance for an introvert in asking for a raise, a hesitation to move to action just might be.

You see, since introverts derive their energy from their inner world of ideas and images, and a clear vision of where they are headed, we tend to gravitate to that inner world and, often without consciously realizing it, try to spend as much time there as possible. As a result, we may sometimes be reluctant to move to the outer world of bold action, because it is where we are less comfortable and quickly become drained. However, when it comes to asking for a raise, it’s imperative that we be our own advocate. We have to get out of our comfort zone and ask for what we want!

1. I encourage anyone who is doing exceptional work and is not being paid at a level commensurate with others at similar organizational levels and skill sets in their industry, as well as those who are exceeding the standards in their industry and company and creating significant profits for their company, to ask for a raise. For some individuals this may seem to be a daunting task.

When I am speaking to audiences I often share that when I was on dialysis and my family members had all been ruled out as kidney donors, I had to ask people whom I didn’t know to consider giving me a kidney. My donor ended up being a woman from my church whom I had never met. I was elated to discover she was actually excited to be given the opportunity to help someone like me. I had to ask in order to receive. I promise it’s a lot easier to ask for a raise than to ask for a kidney, and it’s much easier for your boss to say yes to a raise!

The key message here: take the initiative to get what you want and believe you have earned. In today’s market, you may not get it unless you ask.

2. The best time to ask is during your in-person annual or semi-annual review when the conversation is specifically dedicated to you and to your performance.

3. You should prepare materials supporting your outstanding performance and any research you can gather showing that you are not being paid at a level commensurate with others in your industry at similar levels in their organization, and with similar skill sets and educational backgrounds. Know the salary range for your role given your educational level, years of experience and skill set. Additionally, calculate how much you contributed to the bottom line of your company through your direct actions, if possible.

4. The aforementioned research will help you determine what the appropriate amount is for you to be targeting. I recommend employees ask for a bit more than they are targeting to give the employer some negotiating room. If you persuade your boss that a raise is appropriate, they will very likely want to do what they can to support you, but may not be able to give you everything you ask for. Be aware of this going in and adjust your strategy accordingly.

5. There is no “correct” phrasing when asking for a raise; it’s much better to speak from the heart. Focus on letting your boss know that you genuinely enjoy your job and working for the company, and that you respect them and appreciate the opportunity to learn from them. Share the research you’ve put together about salaries and the supporting documentation regarding your performance. And then ask for what you want in a courteous and confident way, knowing that you are worthy of what you ask for.

I can’t stress how essential it is that you believe in your worthiness for this raise. The Essence of Worthiness is different from arrogance or a sense of entitlement. When you know you are worthy, you carry yourself with a confident stature and a sense of knowing that you are being true to yourself.

6. And then, as my business partner Vanda Teixeira says in To Be A Woman: A Signature Book, “Give the world permission to unfold its divine magic into your life; give yourself permission to receive it.”

FOR SPEAKING AND INTERVIEWING INQUIRIES, write to Lisa at [email protected] Thank you!

Photo of Shaking Hands by Arif Sheikh2011

The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

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How Introverts Can Be Exceptional Entrepreneurial Leaders

Budding entrepreneurI had the honor and pleasure of sitting down with Josh Zywien of Open View Labs to talk about how introverts can be exceptional in entrepreneurial leadership roles, an area of importance to Open View as they aim to help entrepreneurs build great companies. This interview originally ran in the Open View Labs blog, and I wanted to share it here with all of you. Enjoy!


When it comes to introverts, there’s a common misconception that they lack the necessary qualities to be effective leaders. It’s a perception that leadership strategist and entrepreneur Lisa Petrilli disagrees with and, as a self-described introvert and a highly successful entrepreneur, it’s one she can legitimately disprove.

But being introverted isn’t about being shy or team averse, says Petrilli, who founded executive consulting firm C-Level Strategies in 2010 and authored The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership last year. Instead, it’s simply about drawing energy and creative juices from a different place.

While extroverts are at their best in more populated, bustling surroundings, introverts thrive in smaller group — and, yes, sometimes singular — settings and draw their energy from their inner world. Neither preference is wrong or better than the other, Petrilli explains, and both types of personalities can produce excellent leaders.

Petrilli recently sat down for a brief conversation with OpenView to discuss her experience as a successful introverted CEO, the roadblocks she faced along the way, and why she thinks possessing and communicating vision is the true foundation of great leaders.

As an introvert, did you find the leadership component of being an entrepreneur difficult early in your career?

Absolutely. In a business environment, you can’t escape the outer world that extroverts prefer. You have to exist and interact there if you want to be successful. For an extrovert, it’s an energizing experience to participate in larger groups and lead large teams. An introvert can be very successful in that world, but we don’t like to spend the preponderance of our time there.

Ultimately, leaders at companies of all sizes need to spend time every day getting out of their comfort zone if they want to be successful. I’m not suggesting that introverts have to become extroverts, but it’s important to get out of your office, motivate your team, and talk to the world about your company. If you’re the CEO of a growing company, those situations are unavoidable, and if you don’t embrace them at some point you’ll hit a career ceiling.

The good news, though, is that once you’ve done that, I absolutely think it’s important for introverts to return to their sanctums and explore their inner world of ideas. It’s really about striking a balance between your introverted preferences and the extroverted demands of corporate leadership.

What makes introverts particularly strong leaders in the startup and expansion stage phases?

I think introverts excel at creating and setting a vision for their company or product. Many people assume that the majority of CEOs — because they’re the figureheads of their companies — are extroverts. In my experience, that has not been the case.

Introverts — like a lot of entrepreneurs — tend to be creatively minded people who work well in innovative environments that allow them to dream up fantastic products and features. Early on, those people are great leaders because they’re comfortable communicating that vision to their small teams.

You talk a lot about the concept of “visionary leadership.” How exactly do you define it and how does it differ from other leadership styles?

I’m not sure that visionary leadership is a “style” as much as it is a foundation for great leadership. Ultimately, CEOs at the startup and enterprise levels need to know where they want to take their organizations. Executives may have a tendency to brush aside the idea of vision and turn it into a stock exercise that they execute with their team once a year.

That’s a big mistake. Your vision should be the framework of your business. It gets to the core of what you do, where you want the company to go, and what your market’s going to look like when you get there. Ultimately, a company’s leader needs to illuminate that path. If you look at Steve Jobs, he certainly did that with Apple. Steve Jobs was well known as a visionary and he created, communicated, and stuck with a very specific vision.

In the end, vision is about asking yourself how your business is going to make its customers more successful. When you think about your company as a medium for improving its customers’ lives, it can be hugely inspirational for you and your employees. Without that vision, your business will likely lack the internal fire that truly fuels long-term success.

What one piece of advice would you give early-stage CEOs — particularly introverted ones — about creating and communicating that vision to their teams?

I think the easiest way to summarize everything we’ve discussed is to say that what you bring to the table needs to be uniquely you. Whether we’re talking about leadership styles, personalities, or products, it’s critical to understand your strengths, embrace them, and deliver them in a way that is genuine and impactful.

Everyone assumes that innovation is about creating groundbreaking technology or that leadership is about being this boisterous personality, and neither is necessarily true. Ultimately, innovation and leadership are about being more of who you’re meant to be and less of who you’re not. If you can figure that out and clearly convey your passion, then you’ll empower your employees, investors, and customers to follow you.


The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

Are you an introvert looking to use your introversion to your advantage in business & leadership or an extrovert interested in leading introverts more effectively? I wrote this eBook for you…

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” eBook is NOW Available! Now an Amazon Best Seller, Hot New Release, and Kindle promotion in July 2012. Featured on Huffington Post, and the inspiration behind my Harvard Business Review article!

BUY Now on Amazon for Kindle or Buy it at B&N for Nook! Also available on iBooks!

Click here to DOWNLOAD in PDF format. Thank you!

Being an introvert is truly an advantage in business and leadership if you know how to leverage it, and if you remain true to yourself.

Photo of Oblong geranium bud by Horia Varlan.