We are all guilty to some degree of overlooking the quiet person in the room and giving our attention and confidence to the loudest individual. It’s often the extroverts who steal the limelight and whose confidence is viewed as being a direct qualification for promotion into a leadership role. But this is a mistake that can cost organisations the intelligence, insights, and qualities that are needed in choosing a great leader.
But introverts have valuable gifts and perspectives to leverage in their supervision roles to change and impact those they lead. If you’re an introvert in a leadership position, then this article is for you. Introverts bring a different style of management to any organisation they’re in and we’ll give you tips on how to make the most of your personality.
“Introvert” is the name of the personality trait given to individuals who focus on internal feelings, thoughts, and moods as opposed to external stimulation as in the case of extroverts which lies on the opposite end of the scale.
Introverts are quiet, reserved, and introspective. In a social setting, introverts often feel depleted and need to spend time alone to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, are recharged when spending time with large groups of people.
Top reasons why introverts can be great leaders
There’s a big misconception that believes that introverts can’t make effective leaders because of their quiet nature. They wonder if they will be able to stand up for themselves or their team. Do they have the confidence to speak up and contribute in large settings? The answer to these questions is an unequivocal YES! It is some of these understated qualities that will make them excellent leaders.
- Good listeners
Good leaders should be great listeners. By nature, introverts are observant, and thoughtful, listen intently to those around them, and can pick up on what is not said. This quality means they can empathise, bring in other perspectives, are open to and value feedback, understand that listening is central to learning, and from this give consideration to what is said. When employees feel heard and respected, they are more engaged and will give more of themselves to the team and organisation.
- Cool, calm, and collected
One of the noticeable things about introverts is that they tend to be cool, calm, and collected. this is a great quality in leadership settings because it sets the tone in stressful situations. When you’re calm, it gives you mental clarity to look at the situation and make decisions not based on emotions but by taking careful thought into the scenario. This calm state also gives the team confidence that this situation is under control.
- Act with purpose
Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with problems longer.” A good leader sets an example for their employees. They are focused, do what they say they will do, and their team is confident that their leader will make decisions for the benefit of the team and won’t ask them to do something they as a leader are not willing to do.
- No micro-managing
Introverts don’t like the spotlight shining on them. They are content with giving their employees the freedom to express their opinion and take ownership of tasks without shirking off their responsibilities. They guide their team, give them room to grow, and are confident in their abilities without watching over every small task and monitoring their every move. This micromanaging behaviour can make employees feel suffocated, and not trusted, and doesn’t give free room for growth and creativity.
- Deep thinkers
Introverts focus on and give special attention to their internal world. They take their time and ponder decisions, positions, and other key areas of their lives. They are mindful of their interactions and are deliberate in the solutions, ideas, and creativity they bring forward. As a result, they are not pushy in group settings and consider the flow of discussions and meetings.
Tips to succeed as a leader
Many people are surprised to learn that some of the world’s most successful leaders identify as introverts. Bill Gates, Simon Sinek, Warren Buffet, Mark Zuckerberg, and Guy Kawasaki are just a few examples. In any industry or speciality, you can find at least one introverted leader. Here are a few tips you can use to harness your leadership skills:
- Step up. In times of crisis, this is when you need to step up and out and share the fully formed ideas you’ve mulled over internally. Your analysis of the situation and observation skills are valuable,
- Get out of your comfort zone. Big energy and busy settings can be draining for you as an introvert but it’s also important to get out of your comfort zone now and again to network.
- Recharge. Group events and activities can be draining for introverts. Set time aside during the day to recharge, contemplate and get back to your best self.
- Use communication and collaborative apps. Take advantage of digital communication tools to stay in contact with your team while you preserve your energy for face-to-face meetings with clients.
If you’re an introvert eyeing a leadership role or are already in a leadership role, remember that it is these very traits that you possess that make you a great leader. We are all social beings and regardless of where we find ourselves on the personality spectrum, have something valuable to bring to every situation. The key is to know and understand yourself, your strengths and weakness, and work on leveraging these for success.
Discover more about who you are by taking our workplace personality assessment. The more you know and understand yourself, the better leader you can be.