Leadership Hacks for Introverts

Amanda Luzzader

Tips for leading as an introvert

Some people may think that introversion and leadership don’t fit together very well. Introverts are usually shy, quiet, and prefer to be alone, right? Introverts use up their supply of psychic energy when interacting with others, right? 

So, isn’t leadership better suited to extroverts?

Of course not!

In fact, a list of history’s great introverted leaders would be far too long to list here. However, to name a few very successful introverts, here’s a quick list:

Bill Gates. Famously soft-spoken and reclusive, Bill Gates said that one reason he was successful is that he learned to harness the advantages of introversion.

Steven Spielberg. You’ve probably seen many of his films, but did you know that he is a self-described introvert and prefers being alone when watching movies?

Isaac Newton. Not that being an extrovert or introvert will necessarily help you become a groundbreaking thinker, but “Especially in the earlier part of his life, Newton was a deeply introverted character and fiercely protective of his privacy.”

Larry Page. A co-founder of Google, Page was once considered an unwise choice to be the tech giant’s CEO, but it’s said that his introverted style lent Google’s workforce many advantages.

Abraham Lincoln. He overcame many of his introverted tendencies, but remained reticent and bookish until his untimely death.

What is introversion?

A lot of people believe that introverts are simply shy and quiet. While some introverts may be shy and quiet, according to WebMD and many other experts, the traits of introversion and extroversion are much more complex than merely being shy or outgoing. WebMD lists the following introvert characteristics:

-Need quiet to concentrate

-Are reflective

-Are self-aware

-Take time making decisions

-Feel comfortable being alone

-Don’t like group work

-Prefer to write rather than talk

-Feel tired after being in a crowd

-Have few friendships, but are very close with these friends

-Daydream or use their imaginations to work out a problem

-Retreat into their own mind to rest

As you might expect, WebMD’s list of extrovert characteristics are much different and in a few cases mirror-images of the introvert characteristics:

-Are the life of the party

-Feel at home in social settings

-Love being around people

-Don’t like to be alone

-Have tons of friends

-Love to share

-Are outgoing and easygoing

-Are optimistic

-Are “people person”s

-Are not afraid to try

Introverts are actually well-suited to leadership.

According to a blog post published by B-to-B corporate support firm Vantage Circle, introverts have many baked-in leadership advantages that their extroverted counterparts lack. These include the following:

1. Introverts are calm. 

Because of their preference for contemplation and solitude, introverts are likely to stay calm when situations turn stressful.

2. Introverts encourage productivity. 

Because introverts tend not to elbow their way to the front of the line, they’re good at supporting the productivity of others. 

3. Introverts are great at listening. 

They may not be great at speaking extemporaneously for large groups, but introverts are great at listening, analyzing, pondering, and putting their ideas into written form.

4. Introverts are ready to help others succeed. 

As a general rule, introverts do not desire to outpace or dominate their peers, and are therefore willing to help others achieve and advance.

5. Introverts do not micromanage. 

Some may call it “stand-offishness,” but employees working for an introvert are more likely to say, “My boss stands back and lets me make my own decisions whenever possible.”

Tips for introvert leaders

If you’re an introvert who wants to lead, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is behind you. An article on their website includes five tips specifically for introvert leaders.

1. Embrace the power of listening. 

As mentioned above, introverts may not be as comfortable speaking up and speaking out, but introverts may be much better on the other side—listening carefully, processing the information, and implementing suggestions. 

2. Give yourself time to sequester yourself in order to process information. 

If you’re the leader, you can make time in your schedule to retreat in order to take in and analyze relevant information. This can result in better decision-making. This is especially good for preparing for upcoming meetings, conversations, and presentations. 

3. Give yourself time to recharge. 

Being an introvert won’t get you out of the boss’s imperative of (for example) interacting with people—sometimes a lot of people. Extroverts may thrive on that kind of lifestyle, but most introverts expend their energy during such activities. You’re the boss, so schedule adequate time to recover.

4. Be prepared to go out of your comfort zone. 

This piece of advice can go for extroverts, too—anyone in a leadership position must be prepared to stretch and grow. In the case of introverts, this will mean situations like public speaking and being at the center of attention in other ways. 

5. Surround yourself with extroverts.

This may sound counterintuitive, but having a small team of those who exhibit traits that you lack can be just the thing to leverage your own abilities.







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