Only extroverts make good leaders – that is a falsehood. Many people think that in American business culture, leadership is synonymous with being an extrovert, that the top tiers of leadership are reserved for those who have no trouble addressing a large crowd, who live for schmoozing with other business owners and potential clients at networking events, and who immediately voice their loud opinions in meetings.
This business cultural bias is inaccurate yet people still wonder, “can introverts be good leaders?” The answer is yes and, in fact, some of our top business leaders are introverts. Take Warren Buffet, Charles Schwab, Marissa Mayer, and Bill Gates as examples of famous introverts. Introverts possess a different style of leadership than extroverts but they do possess many qualities that make them successful leaders. Actually, these are the qualities that extroverted leaders need to work on to become better leaders themselves.
Introverts are more introspective, thoughtful, and intentional when it comes to making business decisions and they have an incredible capacity for listening and reflection which leads to forging strong relationships with employees and clients. Where introverted leaders struggle in how to be an effective leader is their ability to express and advocate their ideas, being more social, and more visible. This often does not feel natural or even comfortable for introverts.
Regardless of whether you are an extrovert or introvert, every leader has things they need to work on as we are all a work in progress, we can all do things better. If you are an introvert, there are techniques you can incorporate to improve your weaknesses and below are our 8 leadership tips for introverts for how to be a good introverted leader.
Tip #1: Play to your strengths
Tip #1 is to embrace that you are an introvert. Accepting that you are an introvert and playing to your strengths will lead to your success. Take inventory of your strengths and introvert traits which likely include thoughtfulness, balance, creativity, organization, good listening skills, and intentionality. Realizing that you are of extreme value to your business because of who you are and how you lead will help you become more confident and comfortable expressing yourself.
Tip #2: Prioritize downtime
Tip #2 is to prioritize downtime during your workday. Extroverts are energized by external stimuli (like people), whereas as an introvert you must create solitude for yourself to refuel. Take a walk, eat lunch alone, or take breaks to read something unrelated to work. It’s these moments of solitude that give you life and re-energize you. You will find some of your best ideas will flow from these moments.
Tip #3: Hire the right people
Tip #3 is to make sure you are hiring the right people on your team. You should be picky about who you work with and you need to make sure you have a diverse and balanced team. Personality assessments are a great tool to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. It gives you a good insight into how well your team is balanced. In addition, you should share the results with everyone so that each team member can better understand each other and how to communicate effectively with one another. A team made up exclusively of introverts will lack the necessary skills needed to be successful. Since you are an introverted leader, you need to make sure you have an extroverted person or extroverted introvert to fill in the gaps socially. Look for someone who can comfortably strike up a conversation and develop connections within the team and also externally with clients.
Tip #4: Set boundaries
Tip #4 is to set boundaries for yourself and for how others interact with you. Introverts tend to be more empathetic and can quickly overextend themselves by feeling overwhelmed by the needs of others. Learning to delegate work and not be available 100% of the time for others are important boundaries an introvert must learn to set to avoid burnout. Directing others to set meetings and email you instead of continually having things appear out of nowhere and throw off your day will help you create healthy and sustainable boundaries for time and communication with others.
Tip #5: Discover healthy ways to deal with stress
Tip #5 is to find healthy ways to deal with the stress of work. Work should be fun, gratifying, and challenging, but whether you are an introvert or extrovert, it can at times be highly stressful and overwhelming. It’s important to carve out time to decompress and manage your stress every day, especially on the days when you feel you don’t have time for it. Those are the days where you need it the most. Like everything, cultivating a healthy work/life balance is a practice. When neglected you will fall out of balance. It’s about progress not perfection. Exercise, meditation and mindfulness exercises, reading, downtime, and quality time with friends and family are things you need to prioritize to work towards a more healthy work/life balance and deal more effectively with stress.
Tip #6: Ask questions
Tip #6 is to ask questions. Specifically, you should ask open-ended questions to let others do the talking. Allowing others to express themselves plays to your strengths as an introvert in listening, reflecting, and making calculated thoughtful decisions. It also creates an environment where your team members are able to safely communicate their ideas, thoughts, and opinions which builds trust and allows for open dialogue within your team.
Tip #7: Get out of your comfort zone
Tip #7 is to know when to venture outside your comfort zone. As an introvert you do possess qualities that will make you a successful leader but sometimes you will need to adjust to being outgoing and assertive when the situation demands it. Our default as human beings is what is comfortable to maintain homeostasis, and this is where business leadership coaching can help you channel those different qualities. Through executive leadership coaching, leaders gain awareness of themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, and learn to develop strategies to fill in their personal gaps.
Tip #8: Focus on your WHY
Tip #8 is to focus on your why. As an introvert, self-promotion is really hard. So, by focusing on why you do what you do, your business and your team will take the focus off you. Take inventory of your passions and think about how your actions help your business, your team, and your clients. For example, instead of feeling dread over an upcoming networking event because you’re a social introvert, a shy person, shift your mindset to see it as an opportunity to build your network, which will benefit not only you but everyone else. Leadership coaching really helps introverts reframe events and environments as opportunities which, in turn, helps to focus on the why and always keep the bigger picture in mind.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle. Some of the primary benefits of business and executive coaching include getting really clear on your personality and leadership strengths and blindspots. You have to understand who you are and how you interact with others first. From there you can work on your weaknesses so you can become the best leader possible for your team and your clients. You don’t have to change everything about yourself to be an effective leader, in fact there is no one-size-fits-all correct personality and leadership style, so really it’s all about playing to your strengths and working on your weaknesses. At Leader’s Cut our executive coaching services are custom tailored to the unique needs of each client and each business. Contact us today to schedule a 15 minute meet and greet to find out how Leader’s Cut executive coaching can help you and your business!