We often associate leadership with extroversion. When we think of those who lead, we might think of people who are out-going by nature, more commanding in meetings and so on.
What happens if you’re an introvert who wants to be a leader?
It may be true that extroverts have, to some extent, an easier time rising up in their careers, due to their more outwardly commanding nature, but that doesn’t mean they make the best leaders. Good leadership comes in many shapes and sizes, and businesses need both introverted and extroverted leaders to succeed.
The best organisations have a collection of leaders who offer different skills and strengths, so long as all of them are willing to make changes and learn new attributes that may challenge their natural style at times.
Introverts have several unique traits that they can take advantage of to be a great leader. We’ve broken down some key elements of introverted leadership to help you succeed. These pointers are designed for more introverted individuals, but can be a useful reflection for anyone in, or seeking a leadership position, regardless of your personality or current leadership style.
- Know Your Strengths. Confidence means so much more than being naturally out-going. Confidence in leadership means having a true understanding of your own strengths and knowing how to use them. Whilst emulating others can be helpful at times, trusting your natural tendencies can help you carve out your own leadership style.
Introverts are usually great active listeners and reflective compassionate individuals with great empathising abilities. If this is you…be confident in this skill. One of the most important traits of a leader is the ability to listen to employees and take on board their opinions, thoughts and feelings.
Ultimately, whatever your skills are, the better you know yourself, the better you can utilise your abilities to the benefit of your team.
- Listen. On that note, introvert or extrovert, being able to listen is a crucial skill for any leader. Whilst some leaders feel inclined to always follow their own immediate instinct, being able to stop and evaluate the opinions of others can ensure the best outcome is achieved.
- Think. An introvert’s ability to stop and think about a situation can be extremely valuable. Taking the time to stop and consider all aspects of any given circumstance and all attitudes towards it can ensure the best decisions are made.
Moreover, for introverts, new challenges can be intimidating, remembering to stop and think things through beforehand can make them less scary to approach. For some introverts, making notes and writing things out can help with processing the matter at hand and instilling confidence in your decisions – this can be useful for extroverts too to ensure they are considering all possibilities!
- Prepare. The importance of organisation cannot be underestimated for any leader. Listening and thinking are imperative to long-term success. Find your preferred method of preparation and use it to help you approach any challenging aspect of your job.
- Be clear about your style of leadership. This first point in this article explained the importance of understanding your strengths so you can lead with your best foot forward. It is also beneficial to make your style of leadership clear to those whom you are leading.
Perhaps your approach is different to the person in the role before you. As an introvert, maybe you wish to avoid leading too many large meetings and want to create a different channel of communication. Talk to your team about how you plan to lead, so they know what to expect from you, and can formulate their own approaches to being a member of the team accordingly.
When everyone is on the same page, you are better set up to thrive. Ensure that there is a clear channel of communication established between you and your team members.
- Communicate 1-1. Communication is so important, and as an introvert, communicating one-on-one may be your preferred approach. Especially in the early stages, it’s likely that you will feel more comfortable this way!
Not to mention, maybe you have more introverts on your team, who, like you, may opt not to speak out very often in larger meetings. Ensuring a one-on-one opportunity for check-ins means you can catch up with every single member of the team.
- Challenge yourself. With all of the above said, there are times when you will have to push outside of your comfort zone.
Introverts can be great leaders, but there will always be moments where you have to take a clear lead, use your initiative, or deal with uncomfortable situations. Being prepared for challenges is crucial and being willing to go against your natural instincts at times is a necessary skill for any leader.
- Recharge. No matter your approach, leadership is a challenge, and for an introvert who is usually drained by interaction rather than reinvigorated by it, it’s important to carve out time to switch off and recharge.
Most introverts know how they best recharge, and no matter the demands of your professional life, ensuring this time is so important to sustaining success in the long term.
Ultimately, employees look for compassion, trust and stability in their leaders. Introverts are entirely capable of performing these things to an excellent standard, meaning introverts are, with the right preparation, perfectly equipped to be great leaders.
It just means that introverts often require a slightly more planned approach to their job in order to succeed to the best of their abilities. The above list seeks to provide the main steps necessary to utilise your introverted nature for professional gain.
Introverted or extroverted, our personalities play a key role in who we are as leaders, but many leadership skills can be learned and nurtured to help us be the very best version of ourselves. Trainer Bubble offers an extensive range of training resources in a variety of formats, which includes a large selection of leadership skills training. Explore our full catalogue here.
Or, for more information, and to discuss the learning needs of your business, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.