What Everyone Should Know About Introverts At Work

November 30, 2016 Sarah Payne

Susan Cain

Did you know that as much as a third to half of people are introverts? That means potentially half of our workers require time alone to recharge and autonomous environments to be their best selves at work.

This raises interesting questions, like how do you know if you’re an introvert? What are the most effective ways to coach introverts? What kind of work environments will help both introverts and extroverts thrive? What if you’re an introvert yourself and you manage extroverts on your team?

Quiet Revolution co-founder and bestselling author Susan Cain has dedicated her life’s work to answering these questions. That’s why we are thrilled to announce today that Cain will be a keynote speaker at WorkHuman 2017 in Phoenix, Ariz.

You may already be familiar with her books “Quiet Power: The Secret Strength of Introverts” and “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.” But Cain is also the co-founder of the Quiet Schools Network and the Quiet Leadership Institute. Microsoft founder Bill Gates named her TED talk one of his all-time favorite talks.

She also fits rights into the WorkHuman family.

Last year, WorkHuman 2016 speaker Amy Cuddy told The New York Times, “Now people think it’s cool to be an introvert,” adding that a majority of her students have read Cain’s books.

Cain is also a friend of Adam Grant, another WorkHuman 2017 keynote speaker. In fact, Grant interviewed Cain for the Wharton School back in 2012. You can listen to the podcast or read the transcript of the interview here.

At WorkHuman 2017, Cain will draw on her work to offer a new perspective on the importance of creating, accessing, and voicing your “softer” side to achieve broad impacts for leadership, innovation, and teamwork in the workplace.

If you’d like to know more about her insights on introverts in the workplace, here are three of our favorite Cain quotes:


  1. On advice she gives introverts at work: “…it’s really a question of how to draw on your own natural strengths. So for example, Douglas Conant, who was the CEO of Campbell Soup, describes himself as shy and introverted. He was well known for identifying employees who had really contributed, and he would sit down and write letters of thanks. During the time he was at Campbell, he wrote 30,000 of these letters — an astounding number, and something no extrovert would do. It had profound impact. People really felt connected to him and recognized by him.”
  2. On leadership styles: “When it comes to leadership, extroverts are much more likely to be recognized early for leadership abilities, and then brought up the ranks. This is really a shame, because although introverts don’t at first blush have the qualities we associate with leadership, research that came out of the Wharton School by Adam Grant shows that introverted leaders often produce better outcomes than extroverts do. When introverted leaders are managing proactive employees, they’re more likely than extroverts to let those employees run with their ideas and really implement them. Whereas extroverts are more likely to want to put their own stamp on things and don’t hear other people’s ideas as much. Extroverted leaders do better when you need charisma and a rousing call to arms. The bottom line is that we need both styles of leadership, but what we’re doing in general is training just the extroverts and not the introverts.”
  3. On reward systems: “We need systems that reward the best ideas, not the best presenters. Introverted bosses need to remember that their role requires a lot of engagement – that employees crave feedback from the boss. If you’re an introvert and a boss, and you love to spend a lot of time behind your desk, make sure to explain to your employees who you are and how to interpret your behavior. Find your own way of telling them you love them.”

What Everyone Should Know About Introverts At Work @susancain #workhuman
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