By Dr. Karyn

Happy April to our DK Leadership Community!


Let’s Talk Personality…

The topic of personality is generally one that all my audiences (organizational, educational or parenting) get highly energized and excited about. I think there is something just generally fun about understanding how we are wired and how we are similar to or different from those around us! In one of my recent TV segments on the national talk-show, Cityline – I discussed this important topic! (Click the link below if you prefer to watch the video clip.)’re-an-introvert-or-an-extrovert/

What comes to mind when you think of an extrovert? A loud, over-the-top, outgoing person who dominates whatever group they’re part of? And what about an introvert? Someone who prefers to be alone, quiet, unassuming to the point of meekness? The truth is, while we can all be divided into extroverts and introverts, the differences are much more nuanced and understanding how we are ‘wired’ will impact ALL parts of our life – at home and work!

What’s Your Type?

Although there are personality tests that will define your specific type, there are often clues in our behaviours and preferences that reveal our most likely category. The difference between extroverts and introverts is their energy and how they respond to different situations. Extraverts get their energy from others – introverts get their energy from within. For example, I’m an extrovert and being in groups of people leaves me energized and feeling ‘alive’. Back in my student days, I landed a part time job in an accountant’s office where the money (at the time) was great – but I didn’t like it! Why? Because I was working all alone in a quiet office, and it left me completely drained and feeling uninspired. So, I only lasted 1 day there, but soon became a front desk receptionist at a hotel. The money wasn’t as good, but being around all those people energized me – I loved it! An introvert, on the other hand, may have preferred the office job simply because it suited their energies and fulfilled their need for quiet.

Another clue to understanding your type is in your thought / speech process. Extroverts tend to process out-loud so they “speak-think-speak”, while introverts process more internally so they “think-speak-think”. I’ve also noticed that many introverts I know are extremely observant; perhaps this is what they are doing while the rest of us are talking!

A great example is former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle. I’ve never met them, however based on watching interviews I would guess that Barack is an introvert and Michelle is an extravert (yes, opposites in this category usually end up marrying each other). If you watch him in interviews, Barack carefully chooses his words and thinks before he speaks, demonstrating classic introversion tendencies, while his outgoing wife Michelle tends to be more animated, speaking freely off the top of her head. Different styles for sure, but both equally eloquent and completely engaging in their own way!

There’s No Right Or Wrong

I often find that western cultures tend to idolize extraverts while eastern cultures tend to idolize introverts. The truth is there is no right or wrong here, and neither should be considered better. They are simply different and the most important thing with this topic is to understand who you are so you can maximize your personality!

Author Susan Cain has written extensively on the subject of extroverts and introverts in her incredible book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. She offers a fascinating look at how we can all gain from understanding these differences. In fact, Cain states that the most effective teams are comprised of a healthy mix of both personality styles, which further proves the point that there’s no right or wrong – and I fully agree!

Play To Your Strengths

Once you’re in tune with yourself and understand exactly what energizes you, you’ll have a much easier time playing to your strengths. One of the VP’s I interviewed for our Strategic Career Industry Expert Podcast Series shared a great story with me from earlier in his career. He shared that he had been getting increasingly frustrated at work when he kept seeing his extroverted co-workers networking with ease and as a result getting promoted. At first he tried to be like them, but that didn’t work for him. Then he realized he needed to simply play to his introverted strength. One day after work, he made a list of all the ‘key players’ he would like to network with in his bank. The next day he started emailing them, asking them out for lunch or coffee. He realized that his strength was in building relationships 1 on 1 (not in large groups). His strategy worked and today he is one of the senior leaders at his bank!

The takeaway is to know how you are wired so you can understand what energizes you and structure your life accordingly. If you are an extravert, make sure you are surrounding yourself at home and work with other people. If you are an introvert, structure your life with small groups, 1:1 interactions and plenty of alone time.

As a spouse – also try to make sure your partner is getting what they need so they too are fully energized. I’m an extravert who is married to an introvert. When my husband & I were newlyweds, I took it personally when he started to say he “needed space”. Thankfully, once I understood the power of personality, I understood it had nothing to do with me, as he had told me – he simply just needed space to be energized. So a little tip for spouses: first play to your strengths, and then also make sure your spouse is playing to theirs! This little “secret” can literally energize couples!

Your Leadership Coach
Dr. Karyn

By Dr. Karyn

Hello DK Leadership Community!

What exactly is “grit”? While most of us may think of it as a stubborn determination to get through anything life throws at us, is it so much more than that:

Angela Duckworth, a professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who has written a book on the subject, defines grit as “the tendency to sustain interest in and effort towards very long-term goals”.

She has even devised a test to determine where you place on the ‘Grit Scale’, and explains just how critical it is as a predictor of success. So how can we build grit in ourselves and others? How can you encourage grit in your teams and with your children? I have found that how we handle failure is an important part of building grit!

TIP #1: Push Yourself & Expect 20-30% Failure

 I found it interesting when I learned that employees at Google are encouraged to set goals, and yet expected to achieve only 70-80% of them. Why? Because their philosophy is that if employees are achieving 100%, their goals are too easy! They want to create a culture that is fast, progressive and risk-taking, in which employees are not afraid to try new things. To create that kind of culture they need to inspire employees to stretch, but also to manage expectations that not all their ambitious goals will be reached. Pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone, striving for excellence and expecting (some) goal-failure is all part of building grit. It’s changing our attitude about goal-setting and failure, to an approach which is more realistic and empowering. Personally, I have found this new mindset very helpful; at our office, we have several exciting large projects on the go, and things are moving quickly! Recently, when something has been missed or doesn’t work, we don’t agonize over it and over-analyze; we say “that’s part of the 20%” and we let it go and refocus on our energy on our priorities. It’s been liberating!

TIP #2: Stop & Take Some Time

When we encounter failure, or we don’t reach a goal that truly matters, that’s when our “grit-muscle” is needed. We are not robots – we are humans! As we set goals, and sometimes don’t achieve them, this failure will often bring out feelings of sadness, frustration, or disappointment – it’s a natural emotional response! So how should we cope? First, don’t ignore those emotions; give yourself some “recovery time” to process them. According to motivational speaker and former sports agent Molly Fletcher, recovering from adversity, both physically and mentally, is the only way to achieve success, and it’s something she strongly encouraged in her former clients, many of whom became the top athletes in their field. Once you have gained perspective on your failure, and learned what you need to from it, then give yourself permission to let it go, hit reset, and start going after the next goal.

TIP #3: Lean In & Have A Growth Mind-Set

So what should we do during the “recovery process? Lean in and have a Growth Mind-Set! Often, our first reaction to failure is to run and turn our back on it. However, moving towards it and asking for feedback is the only way to learn from it and not let it defeat you. Ask yourself – what worked? What did not work and why? Without understand why, “failure” is likely to happen again. Having a Growth Mind-Set is using data (from failure) and really studying it to help you grow! Data is powerful – without knowing why you failed, you’ll simply be guessing, which is not only a waste of time but will teach you nothing! So the next time you think you have failed (at work or home), have the courage to lean in adopt the Growth Mind-Set. Ask others for their feedback (terrifying: yes, powerfully helpful: YES!). If you ask, most people will tell you, and that powerful data will only strengthen your success muscle of grit.

Your Leadership Coach
Dr. Karyn

By Dr. Karyn

Unless you live in total isolation (which I hope describes none of you!), you are going to encounter what I like to call ‘tricky people’ at some point. Whether it’s a co-worker, a family member or someone in our social circles, there is simply no escaping those people that somehow just know how to push our buttons, intentionally or not.

According to conflict expert Jagoda Perich-Anderson, 67% of employees would prefer to avoid a difficult colleague to reduce bad feelings due to conflict, rather than deal with them head on.

And while avoidance may be a short-term solution, whether in the workplace or at a family gathering, it will not resolve the resulting feelings of unhappiness and disempowerment. So how can we best deal with these people that are part of our everyday lives? I encourage you to think of ‘tricky people’ as an opportunity! I tell my kids all the time, that the world is full of wonderful people and ‘tricky people’, both for young people and adults. The key is to learn how to recognize them, and to respond appropriately. I hope the 3 tips below will help you feel more empowered and optimistic in your professional and personal life! Enjoy!

TIP #1: Study The Pros

You know that colleague at work who seems to deal effortlessly with everyone? That person who never seems bothered or irritated by that ‘tricky person’ in the office? Study them! Exactly what is it that they do to calmly interact with those who manage to push other people’s buttons? Pay attention to their body language, the words they use, and how they respond, so you can learn how they cope with potentially stressful situations. If you are still not sure what they are doing different, just ask them. What’s their secret to not letting people get to them? Their answers may really surprise you!

TIP #2: Give Your Emotions A Workout

Just as important as learning from the pros, is to view your interactions with a difficult person as your ‘emotional trainer’. After all, the only way you can improve at something is by practice! When I was in my early twenties, I had a part-time job while I was putting myself through school and I learned the power of this concept. My manager was an extremely difficult person to deal with and I had to learn very quickly the best way to approach each interaction. I soon discovered that her criticism and constant negativity didn’t have to dictate the way I felt. In fact, by being intentionally positive towards her, not only did I avoid ‘mirroring’ her behavior, a trap we can all fall into in such situations, but I actually felt more assertive and empowered. It was a powerful learning opportunity that taught me no one else can make me feel anything. It is always my choice how I interpret and respond to others.

So, whether it’s your mother-in-law or a difficult boss, make it a personal challenge to interact with that person in a manner that is cool and calm, drawing on your Emotional Intelligence so you remain stress-free throughout the encounter. Just think to yourself – how would you recommend your child to respond in exactly the same situation? Then try to follow your own advice.

TIP #3: Be Prepared

Family get-togethers are times when we often encounter tricky people – those family members who we just know will end up “pushing our buttons”! The key step for being able to calmly navigate these types of situations is to be prepared! Think ahead of time, what do you think they will say or do that may irritate you? People are very habitual so you will likely be able to think of a few examples. Next, strategize what you would want to say and do when they say that comment. One hint I recommend in these situations is to acknowledge the other person’s opinion but do not engage. My favorite strategy is to have a quick 1-liner in your ‘back-pocket’ so you are 100% prepared, such as “that’s interesting” or “well, that’s one way of looking at it”, and then promptly change the subject. Knowing 1-2 quick, neutral yet respectful one-liners, will help you act rationally and calmly especially in emotionally-charged situations, so you can truly enjoy your family time!

Your Leadership Coach
Dr. Karyn