The Genius of Opposites

Aug 19, 2015 No Comments by

Jennifer KahnweilerToday’s article is written by a guest contributor.

Bestselling author Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D., is a global keynote speaker known as the “champion for introverts.”

In addition to her latest book, The Genius of Opposites, Jennifer has written two bestselling books about introverts (Quiet Influence and The Introverted Leader), which have been translated into 14 languages.

You can learn more about Jennifer and her work by following the links at the end of this article.

Introduction: As Change Agents, it can be very helpful help to take into account the inherent behavioral makeup of the individuals within your organization and how those people may interact – especially when facing change. Jennifer’s article draws from a Q&A session about her excellent new book: The Genius of Opposites in which she introduces us to a few common misconceptions people have about introversion and introverts. She also points out that being introverted or extroverted is neither good nor bad. Each person’s tendencies are something to be understood and leveraged for the benefit of individuals and groups alike.


Let’s hear from Jennifer…orange bar

Being An Introvert

In February, I took part in a great 4 hour session on the Linked In group Connect: Professional Women’s Network.  Here are some excerpts from that event:

theBigRocks Genius of OppositesMany introverts assume that because they’re not outgoing, they’re not cut out to be leaders. In your experience, what are some of the traits that make introverts excel as leaders?

Introverts are leaders. They are some of the best bosses people say they ever had. One of the key strengths they exhibit as leaders is listening. In fact, research done by Adam Grant and his colleagues several years ago revealed that introverted leaders were the best kind to have with extroverted employees because of this fact. Those teams achieved high levels of performance.

The 4 P’s is a process I designed based on what I learned from interviewing and working with successful introverted leaders. First they PREPARE for the people part as much as the task itself. Next they have PRESENCE – they are in the moment and engaged without distraction. Next they PUSH – they stretch themselves and help their teams to the same. Finally, they PRACTICE – they are continually practicing and refining their leadership skills.

It’s often easy for an introvert to be outgoing on social media but much more difficult to keep up that personality in face-to-face interactions. Do you have any tips on how to keep your on and offline personalities consistent with each other?

I don’t think there has to be a disconnect here. Introverts often are about depth vs. breadth. So when they are online or writing they tend to explore and analyze topics thoughtfully. What I love about social media is that we get to explore these thoughts online and our dialogues can be so rich.

When we meet in person we know about that person and their perspectives. It jumpstarts the face-to-face conversations. Also, introverts are very comfortable in one-on-one face-to-face conversations where they can engage. So actually both ways of communicating work beautifully together.

Genius of Opposites ConversationWhat can extroverts learn from introverts?

They can learn to take quiet time and pause. They can slow down, consider what they are saying and let their creativity emerge. In this world of overstimulation, extroverts are starting to appreciate these gifts that introverts bring to the world.

Another quality that extroverts are learning is the power of observation. There is so much to be learned by just watching people. One extroverted woman who was traveling alone told me recently that she observed a quiet saleswoman with a group of 10 extroverted salesmen at the table next to her. The woman’s poise, easy verbal banter and confidence impressed her so that she was inspired to try on that same approach in her company.



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Change Agent Takeaways: I enjoyed Dr. Kahnweiler’s new book The Genius of Opposites and encourage you to check it out below. Based on the book and what she has shared above, I have a short list of considerations for Change Agents:

1. Know Your Stakeholders: Take some time early in your change initiative to build awareness of the personality mix within and across the organization impacted by your change.

2. Know Yourself: Build your own self-awareness! If you are strongly introverted or extroverted, it will impact how you facilitate change. 

3. Adapt Your Approach: Tailor messages and adapt change-related activities to meet the needs of all personality types.

4. Build a Diverse Team: Make sure your change team has representation from all personality types. It can really help to use this mix of talents and perspectives as a sounding board for ideas, plans, and communications.

5. Circle Back: Don’t expect everyone to “get it” just because you or your team does. Introverts and extroverts may absorb information and internalize things quite differently.

I encourage you to learn more about Jennifer’s book here. Read it and apply her great insights to your next change.


Questions for Chatter:

1. How does your personality profile impact your ability to relate to those on your team and others in your organization?

2. What can the introverts and extroverts in your organization learn from each other to help make change more successful?

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About Jennifer Kahnweiler

A thought leader and global speaker, Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, (pronounced Con-Why-Ler) Ph.D., CSP  is known as “the champion for introverts.”  She tackles the topic of introvert – extrovert partnerships in her new book, The Genius of Opposites. This first-of-its-kind book provides readers with tools for how these two personalities can achieve extraordinary results when they understand each other and work together. An expert on introverted leadership, Kahnweiler has written the bestsellers The Introverted Leader and Quiet Influence. She has spoken at hundreds of major organizations, including GE, NASA, and the CDC. Visit follow her on Twitter at @jennkahnweiler.

This article was originally Posted on 2/19/15 at Jennifer’s website:



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Change Agent Skills, Change Communication, Change Execution, Change Leadership, Stakeholder Readiness, Team Dynamics

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I help people and teams succeed with big changes... never a dull moment!
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