6 Tips for Introverted Leaders
Science has shown us that one of the traits we are born with is the degree of introversion or extroversion: it’s a matter of biochemistry and genetics. Yet we live in a world and culture that unequivocally rewards the social habits of extroverts.
Chances are at some point in your career you’ve felt misunderstood as an introvert, but you’ve proven yourself through consistent, credible, and creative work — and now you’re in a leadership position. Sitting at a conference table full of extroverts slinging off-the-cuff ideas out to each other, you may again be wondering how you can contribute.
But the reality is, some of history’s greatest minds and leaders have been introverts: Einstein, Warren Buffet, and Gandhi.
You’re in your leadership position because you have a lot of value to bring to the table, in your own unique, introverted way. By paying attention to your strengths, you can find a way to lead that is true to yourself and also stands out to your extroverted colleagues. Here are six helpful tips:
One of your greatest strengths as an introvert is your instinct to listen first, speak second. As a leader this is incredibly valuable, so play to this strength and whether you’re talking to customers or your team members, listen to what they have to say and let them know you value their ideas, thoughts, and concerns.
Write Down Your Thoughts
Because reflection and critical thinking are strengths of yours, take time alone to write down your thoughts following meetings and in advance, so you’re ready to go with your responses to agenda items.
Make sure you’re also scheduling time in your day to work independently and work through your thoughts and ideas by writing them down, whether that’s on a whiteboard, in a notebook, or through a digital note tracker like Evernote.
Communicate How You’re Different
It is true that introverts are easily misunderstood — so make sure to communicate to your team how your leadership style will be different. That way, from the start, everyone will understand why you’re leading the way you are.
Dedicate Time to One-on-One’s
One-on-one meetings, lunches, and coffees are going to be the best opportunity for your leadership to shine, as are small group brainstorms. You won’t be able to avoid all large group meetings, but make sure to build your leadership primarily through small groups and one-on-one’s.
Be a Voice of Calm and Reason
In times of crises, you have a unique ability to stay calm and think methodically and logically. Step up in these moments to be the voice of reason, and your leadership will shine through.
Take Time to Understand Everyone’s Unique Strengths
You would want a leader to take the time to understand how you’re different, so extend that to the team members you’re leading, no matter where they fall on the introversion/extroversion scale. Provide them the space to bring their own unique ideas, strengths, and skills to the table and the team.