When I was at NRPA’s Directors School last summer, the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain was recommended. Then when I was teaching at Supervisors Management School (SMS) in November, the book was recommended again, so I committed to reading it. The backbone of SMS is learning about the different temperament types as defined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) assessment and understanding how they relate to supervision. It was quite powerful when we divided into extroverts and introverts and shared what we liked and didn’t like about each other.
I had one of those “aha” moments thinking about my staff and some communication challenges we were facing. Two staff members were in a standoff, with one being an extrovert and the other an introvert. After reading Quiet, it all made sense. The extrovert didn’t understand why all communication couldn’t be face-to-face or over the phone, and the introvert found email to be the preferred method of communication. I needed the knowledge I learned at SMS and through reading Quiet to fully appreciate the conflict. Going forward at our department, all meetings will have agendas distributed ahead of time, offices with doors will be supplied to staff when possible, and we will avoid brainstorming sessions unless we also allow for written ideas ahead of time.
I highly recommend SMS for all levels of supervisors to better understand, work with and supervise others. In the meantime, pick up a copy of Quiet and learn to appreciate the introverts in your life.
— Cindi Wight, Superintendent, Rutland Recreation and Parks Department, Vermont