Core-led women know 3 things:
They know who they are at the core
They have very clear boundaries
They take time out for themselves
Part of who I am at the core is an introvert, an empath and highly intuitive, which can be a good mix, but also an extremely draining mix.
When I speak with people on this topic, many are surprised when I talk about my introversion and being an introvert. In my business I am highly visible online, I run in person events (such as my annual Power Up event), I can stand on a stage and deliver talks and I love delivering speeches to people. But my introversion is more about energy and how I manage it.
My partner is the complete opposite to me. He’s an extrovert, so his downtime and recharging involves lots of phone calls and catching up with people, being in a social situation where he is surrounded by family and friends. But for me, I recharge and I get my energy from being alone.
That could be my head in a book, time alone in my home office, going for a walk alone. I am now able to manage my time and energy really effectively, but that wasn’t always the case.
Back in my corporate days there was a leadership development programme that I was on and the trainer was really clear and specific, that part of being an authentic leader, was to be an extrovert.
For me, that didn’t resonate. I would find the days where I was in lots of meetings and surrounded by people really, really difficult. I didn’t have the time to recharge my energy, my thoughts. So those days were draining, on top of that I was commuting to London everyday, so the stations, the trains, the tubes were always full of other people, then I’d get home and my family would be there and it was extremely draining for me. I had to really fight to be able to have time working from home or shutting myself away in a room to get some work done.
Very few people in the organisation understood why I needed that.
Very few leadership texts and framework are geared towards introverts as a leader. Yet in the right environments, introverts can be incredible leaders. We are able to tune into the energy, we pay attention to the stuff not being said and we can get loads and loads of stuff done. IF we are in the right environment.
During my corporate career I had a year of having my own office, before being moved again to an open plan office, hot desking and lots and lots of people around. That doesn't give me what I need. Open plan was seen to be the best thing since sliced bread in a business. But especially during 2020 when we started working more from home, the introverts really found a way to flourish. It impacted the extroverts in a different way, but introverts finally had the correct working environment to allow them to thrive.
An open plan office may well be beneficial to some people and they are more productive in that environment, but not to everyone works well like that. We aren’t all the same, we don’t all work in the same way and we all have different needs.
It can be quite difficult sometimes for introverts to contribute to decision making when they are surrounded by other people. I know I’ve heard before “you were quiet in that meeting” “You didn’t say a lot”. But I needed downtime to process and to think.
So if you are an introvert or some of your team are, talk to them, ask them what they need, how they recharge themselves, where they get their energy from, so that you can get the best out of them.
Now from a business owner perspective; we are told a lot about the things we SHOULD be doing. The ways to be visible, what we should be doing on social media, collaborations, and networking. We are told that if you are going to be successful in your business, these are the things you need to be doing.
Firstly, we have to forget those ‘shoulds’ and what works for you, may not work for me and vice versa. Being visible in the corporate world or our own businesses doesn’t have to be draining. You do what’s best for you.
For example; the noise and the energy that comes from lots of phone calls, lots of emails and lots of admin, isn’t great for me. I don’t cope well with it.
For my Power Up event in London; I know what I need and I have booked the day off before my event and the day after. I have given myself the energetic space I need to prepare and recharge so that I can deliver an event and stand up in front of people and be my best. I can’t go into that event drained.
I get lots of energy from writing, from recording podcasts and from doing live videos. These are 3 ways I can be effectively visible in my business that doesn’t drain me. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter drain me and don’t work well for me energetically.
I can procrastinate on things that involve a lot of people like giving a talk to a room full of people, but if I can shut myself away and close the door, I can get stuff done. I tend to give myself a day or 2 a month to work on my social media, articles, blogs, and podcasts, where I draft my ideas and if I can bulk record or write then I will.
I need to make the most of my energy and my creative time, so I plan that out accordingly.
Let’s talk about networking. It was something I was encouraged to do in my corporate days and everybody told me I needed to do it when I started my own business. But honestly, networking just drains me. Firstly, I can’t think of anything worse than walking into a room full of strangers and being asked the “what do you do?” question. I don’t like that question, it’s not deep enough for me to answer or get excited about. My introverted self struggles a lot with small talk.
I was at a book launch for my friend's book a few weeks ago and we were given a window of time to get there and start networking before the event started. I got to the place on time, but couldn’t get parked, so I ended up with about 10 minutes of networking before the event kicked off and I was so happy about that. When we had the first break I ended up speaking to an amazing woman and had a great in depth core-led conversation, which I absolutely loved and I was so grateful she came up to me. Networking doesn’t really work for me though.
I love connecting with people, working with clients, doing talks and workshops, creating new programmes and delivering masterclasses. It lifts me up and gives me energy. So I know that if I do more of that stuff, I end up more energised and enthused to take the phone calls and do the admin stuff. Plus, I’m very lucky that I have an incredible support team around me who will deal with some of this stuff for me.
There’s been some research that says the brains of introverts take a longer amount of time to switch between tasks. So let’s say if I was trying to record this podcast in between client calls, it wouldn’t wouldn't be an effective or efficient day for me. This is because I need to get in the right headspace for my client calls, I need to give myself time before the calls to be able to ground and breathe and be present. If I’m then trying to answer emails, speak on the phone and do lots of other stuff, it can take me forever to get into the right frame of mind for that specific task. That’s not procrastinating for me though, it’s my energy.
How can you plan time more effectively to get the best out of yourself or your team, at the right time?
It’s not always the case of procrastination and not wanting to do certain tasks, it’s just our brains are all programmed in a different way.
In business or corporate we need to manage our energy not our time.
If we can focus more on outputs rather than hours, that can be a real game changer for all of us. Particularly for introverts. The 4 day working week shows that we can get more done in less hours. Even for those of us still working from home, we still need to have the right environment for us.
For me, I need to get into the right headspace, I can’t have interruptions. If I know my postman is due, I also know that my dog will bark at him, so if I have podcasts to record, I will do this after the postman has been.
I’m mindful of my energy and my environment.
I would love to say I get this balance right all of the time, but I don’t.
Nobody’s perfect, but having the awareness and knowing what works for us can give us a shift.
As core-led women we know who we are at the core. We create boundaries. We take time for ourselves.
Perhaps you’ve never really thought about energy levels and the difference between introverts and extroverts, but do take the time to think where you fit in that.
One of the most important things to think about is: How do you recharge and how do you manage your energy?
I’m not usually one for those psychometric tests, but if you are interested then check out www.16personalities.com It’s free to start and you can pay to get a full report and it’s great if you want a deeper understanding of you.
In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family.
Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful. Today at kellyswingler.com, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing.