How fast do you think?

Earlier this week, I met a new client. He’s quite accomplished, says he is very self-aware, and intentional about his leadership style. His career is moving along nicely and his next assignment will fulfill a long term dream of his.

When I asked him what gaps he sees in his leadership style, it took him a while to think of an answer. “Jason” is grounded in his achievements and the value he brings to the world. Finally, he shared that he has been criticized in the past for being moving too fast, making decisions without collaborating with his colleagues, and not allowing others to have a voice. Jason is a System 1 thinker, a concept made popular in the 2011 book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

System 1 thinkers are described as fast, unconscious, effortless and associative while System 2 thinkers are deliberative, slow, effortful and logical. System 1 thinkers rely on speed of response in a crisis and find it easy to complete repetitive tasks, System 2 thinkers allowed for reflection and consideration, and can handle math, statistics, and logic. Which type do you think you are?

“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems, make art, think deeply.”
— Susan Cain, Author
Worth The Share

Being an introspective leader has its place. In this article from Psychology Today, the author, Te Wu, talks about introverts and how they are often over-looked for leadership roles. He quotes that 96% of business leaders identify as extroverts (which he goes on to disprove) and states that we have a bias towards extroverts in our Western culture. While Te specifically talks about project managers in this article, I would challenge that introverts, who are generally thoughtful leaders with strong listening skills, can be strong leaders in a whole host of roles within any organization.

Why Introverted Personalities Make Great Project Managers highlights five areas that introverts can excel at, including:

Decision Making – being more reflective and thoughtful, weighing various factors
Active Listening – listening deeply versus framing a response in their heads
Empowerment – co-creating, sharing the spotlight, and including collaborators
Adaptability – working with others behind the scenes and finding new solutions
Lead by Example – over time, being seen as dependable, saying less and doing more

If you would like to learn more about introverts, you can find the article here.

And Finally...

System 1 and System 2 Thinkers. Introverts and Extroverts. These are just two of the many ways that we can be different from our colleagues, bosses, team members, and

When Jason realized he was a System 1 thinker, a light bulb went off in his head. He realized that maybe he is not as collaborative as he likes to think he is, and maybe more
of a “command and control” type leader than he realized. How can he better work with System 2 thinkers?

Another client I am coaching is an introverted engineer who regularly presents to senior leadership. He is crazy smart, an expert in his field, and yet, being in a room with leadership and leading the conversation is very taxing for him. As an introvert, he is aware that those important meeting drain him of his energy. Susan Caine, quoted above, has done a lot for giving voice to introverts with her 2012 book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. What insight can you uncover about yourself to be your best self?

Have a great week and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Kind regards,
Mary Jo
To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at