Whether in business or in life, we look to our leaders to teach us, guide us, and help us make sense of pretty much everything. So, doesn't it make sens that successful leaders have a strong sense of confidence, are highly engaged an can make key decisions for their team and organization?
As normal humans, we associate these leadership qualities with people who are more extroverted. Extroverts exude confidence in large groups because that's where they draw their energy, so they naturally SEEM like the strongest leaders. Plus, they are known to be highly competent at bringing people together, and their good judgement is always on display.
Then you have introverts.....FYI, they are equally good, and in some ways BETTER, leaders. Although the vast majority of executive leaders are extroverts, there are still 25-30% of CEOs that are introverts.
For example, I’m seen as an extrovert because I’m relatively visible in my role as a business and career coach, speaking at events, as well as vocalizing business and life on numerous podcasts. While I enjoy engaging with people and guiding them through their struggles in business and career, I’m more naturally inclined towards introverted tendencies. I’m more than comfortable keeping to myself and cherish the time I dedicate to quiet introspection.
I have found that the key for introverted leaders is to take the things they’re naturally good at such as: deep thinking, empathy, and the ability to listen - and augment those skills with a strategic dose of extroversion. If you’re able to find the right balance, you’ll develop a leadership style that is uniquely suited for the modern workplace.
So what are some questions to ask yourself if you are an introvert?
1. Do you know your natural leadership traits?
If so GREAT - communicate them to your team!
Introverts are fortunate in that they possess a large number of unique skills that are critical for leadership roles. They’re able to focus intensely to solve problems. They can see the big picture. They can give compelling presentations and are valuable contributors to building an inclusive work culture.
In business, it’s imperative to know what you’re good at and leverage those skills to bring value to your company. If you’re an introverted leader, make sure your boss, team members, and colleagues know what you’re best at, so they know how they can help you be at your best.
2. Did you know introverts aren't as easily distracted?
Introverts aren't exactly disconnected from other people and their environment, but they are better able to tune out the noise and concentrate. They draw their energy from within, and therefore they can easily focus on the task at hand without being distracted by loud conversations or other office noise. BUT, realize that they do need space away from the chaos - so be sure to respect that!
Introverts have a motivation for quality and productivity that is easier to maintain, and they can focus on the needs of their team members without being sidetracked by other tasks or demands.
3. Are you ready to play the extrovert game too?
It simply means one thing: learn flexibility. Yes, such advice may feel like going straight against our very nature, and it contradicts everything we stand for, but a little bit of socializing can bring great benefits. Now I don't mean that we don’t need to change who we are or betray our principles. This merely involves showing different parts of our personality to different people so that we can better relate to them.
4. Do you prepare your notes prior to a meeting?
Introverts will typically have a response after they have mulled over data and planned what they want to say. This tendency affects how you are perceived at meetings or other situations that require you to have a snappy comeback or speak up quickly. Get the agenda in advance and think about the topics that will be covered before the meeting. Write down your thoughts and prepare your speaking points. This tip has seriously helped me appear as a stronger leader in front of extroverted professionals.
5. Are you recharging your battery?
Introverts recharge with alone or quiet time. Extroverts recharge by being with others. Introverted leaders need to be mindful of not scheduling too many things in one day or one week. Space out meetings and conferences to enable you to enjoy them and not feel depleted by the end of the week. Having scheduled times for "open door policies" will also allow for reflection and recharging.
By pushing ourselves a little more persistently to be in front of others, we can help people appreciate us for who we truly are and recognize the skills we have to bring to the table.
As an introvert, what tips do you have that have helped you succeed as a top leader?