fbpx

Traditionally extroverts have long been regarded as leadership excellence, while the value of the introverted leader has been overlooked.  Extroverts speak up readily and converse with others easily, making them stand out as obvious ‘people’ people, while the quiet, introspective introvert is easily overlooked. While their traits are very different to that of the extrovert, introverts bring distinct strengths that are valuable in leadership.

The Differences

We are who we are: introvert or extrovert. It’s a wide spectrum based on how we recharge our emotional batteries and bookended by these two extremes.  Most of us, however, fall somewhere in the middle.

Introverts

For introverts, the main difference is in how they recharge their emotional batteries. Introverts derive energy from alone time. They feel refreshed and alert after spending quiet time to recharge in non-social settings where they can focus on themselves and organize their thoughts.

Introverts tend to lean toward traits such as introspectiveness, measured decision-making, fierce independence and being adverse to change.

Extroverts

Extroverts, on the other hand, feel energized by spending time with other people. They feel most in their element when they’re surrounded by people and tend to feel drained after spending too much time on their own. Extroverts are known for being social butterflies who speak their mind, jump head-first into decision making, and for being highly charismatic and likeable.

Introverts and extroverts are different by virtue of what energizes them: Extroverts feed off other people, social situations, lots of stimulation and conversation. Introverts are energized by quiet time alone to think and recharge, small groups of people, less talk and more face-to-face communication.

Ambiverts, or those close to the middle of the spectrum, borrow strengths and weaknesses from both, depending on their mood and the situation.

 

Introverts At Work

Historically there have been generational stereotypes and biases in the workplace:  Extroversion, typically seen as a strength and introversion, often seen as a liability.  However introverts and extroverts bring very different strengths to the leadership table.  Remember that leadership isn’t about fitting into a pre-existing box – It’s about practicing daily leadership actions that build on your strengths.

 

 

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others. – Bill Gates

 

 

It’s not that the introverted leader prefers to be alone or doesn’t really like people, it’s about energy allocation.  In this way, an introverted leader can be just as effective as any other leader, as long as they don’t attempt to fit into any preconceived leadership mold.

Strengths of the Introverted Leader:

active listening Good Listener – According to Harvard Business Review, introverts create strong relationships because they are good listeners.  They give their full attention to team members, fully understanding their needs before they respond.

Calm Under Pressure – Introverted leaders tend to be less reactive than extroverted leaders. They are able to remain calm and composed under pressure, which helps them make better decisions in high-stress situations.

Self-reflective – Many introverted leaders are naturally introspective and self-aware. They take the time to reflect on their actions and decisions to lead from a more confident place. Self-reflection also helps introverted leaders identify areas where they need to improve, making them generally highly emotionally intelligent.

Build Deep Connections – This introspection and awareness can also lead to being more highly attuned to the feelings of others. Introverts tend to be more empathic and compassionate.

Inclusive To The Team – According to Grant, Gino & Hoffman (2011), Introverts generally encourage and consider all input before making a decision.  They are seen as collaborative leaders who take time to consider all perspectives which can foster a sense of belonging.

Thoughtful Decision-Making – Because the introvert takes their time in decision-making, they often yield not only a thorough assessment of all options, but also a plan to put into action for their team.

Innovative Problem-Solving – Introverted leaders excel in creative problem-solving that’s well-informed and thought out because of their deep thought processes. Their strengths lie in identifying innovative solutions by thoroughly analyzing problems and considering a range of possibilities.

Fostering Team Communication – Introverted leaders are known for their exceptional listening skills. This strength fosters open communication within teams, as team members feel heard and valued. This inclusive environment promotes collaboration and ensures that diverse perspectives are considered in decision-making processes.

Empathy and Understanding – Effective listening goes hand in hand with empathy. According to Abramson in her recent APA article, introverted leaders often display a high level of empathy, understanding the emotions and concerns of others. This empathetic approach builds trust and strengthens the connection with the team.

Building Meaningful Connections – Introverted leaders prioritize building deeper, more meaningful connections over superficial networking. While extroverted leaders may excel in large social settings, introverted leaders shine in building lasting relationships that are deeper and more meaningful.

Team Cohesion – The emphasis on meaningful connections contributes to a cohesive team.  According to Rovira-Asenjo, Pietraszkiewicz, Sczesny, Gumi, Guimera, and Sales-Pardo, introverted leaders create a sense of unity by fostering a supportive and collaborative atmosphere. Team members feel a sense of belonging and are more likely to work together harmoniously.

Balancing Extroverted Energies – In dynamic teams with a mix of introverts and extroverts, introverted leaders play a crucial role in balancing energies. Their calm and steady demeanor can provide stability during hectic periods, contributing to a well-rounded team dynamic

As we can see, while introverts are very different to extroverts, the introvert brings specific and measurable strengths to the leadership table.  These strengths will fuel interpersonal and team dynamics while ultimately boosting productivity overall.

 

 

We don’t need giant personalities to transfform companies.  We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run. – Susan Cain

 

Tips to thrive as an introverted leader:

As an introverted leader, it’s essential to understand how energy is derived and spent within the working day.  When we can identify both the energy sustaining AND energy draining activities, we are better able to prioritize certain strategies that can sustain and cement presence.

Here are some suggestions on strategies that can protect the energy of the introverted leader.

  • Opt for 1:1 meetings
  • Choose quiet confidence
  • Practice active listening
  • Celebrate the small wins
  • Build strong, small teams
  • Lean into your strengths
  • Set clear energy boundaries
  • Focus on quality relationships
  • Take time when making decisions
  • Schedule regular recharge time
  • Find an understanding mentor
  • Leverage remote communication
  • Delegate any energy-draining tasks
  • Use your listening skills to build trust
  • Avoid comparing your leadership to that of others
  • Embrace your authentic leadership style
  • Observe team dynamics and needs
  • Reflect and think before responding
  • Create a calm work environment
  • Prepare thoroughly for meetings
  • Communicate thoughts in writing
  • Seek honest feedback privately
  • Use your natural analytical skills

 

Final Thoughts

Introverted leaders bring a unique and valuable set of strengths to executive roles, which can significantly enhance organizational success. Their reflective and thoughtful decision-making processes ensure careful consideration of various perspectives, reducing the likelihood of errors and promoting strategic thinking.  They display an affinity for active listening, allowing team members to feel heard and valued. This strength works in conjunction with their tendency to cultivate strong, trusting relationships.  Introverted leaders also encourage innovation by providing the space and support needed for creative ideas to flourish.

Overall, the distinct qualities of introverted leaders—such as empathy, thoughtful decision-making, and the ability to foster cohesive teams—highlight their crucial role in driving organizational success and innovation.  In a world that often emphasizes extroverted qualities, the strengths of introverted leaders are not only complementary but essential for a well-rounded and dynamic leadership landscape.

 

 

Sources

Katrina Murphy

Katrina Murphy

Katrina Murphy is a Professional Intuitive Mindset and Confidence Coach in Ontario, Canada, serving clients across Canada and internationally. Katrina helps professionals to change the relationship that they have with themselves so they can reconnect both in their relationships and at work. She’s been featured in various publications and is the creator of the Power-Passion-Purpose Framework.

Pin It on Pinterest