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Leading As An Introvert

by Remus Zhong

Do you sense your energy ebb when you are in the midst of a large social gathering?

Do you feel a need to retreat to a place of solitude seemingly more often than others?

Do you prefer to spend time with a close buddy over a big group of friends?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, chances are good that you are an introvert. So what exactly does that mean? You are one of many people around the world who recharges mainly by spending time on your own.

You have a tendency to prefer to work by yourself, away from prying eyes.

As such, you may have wondered how some of your colleagues are able to flit from conversation to conversation, all the while becoming more and more energetic. These colleagues of yours are likely to be extroverts – people who charge their batteries by spending time with other people.

Extroverts are great at starting conversations and meetings, introducing new members into the fold, as well as brightening the mood of the room. They also have a propensity to take swift action, explore new ground, and seek adventure.

As an introvert leader, you may think that you are at a disadvantage: that you can’t possibly compete with the vibrancy of the enthusiastic, exuberant, and exciting extrovert leader.

That isn’t necessarily true. You have strengths unique to your personality that the extrovert leader will have difficulty duplicating:

1) You Take a Moment Before Making Decisions

This gives you time to fully comprehend situations before attempting to handle them. It also gives opportunities to seek help and advice on problems that you or your team may have little experience in solving.

Contingency plans can be made in the downtime, just in case. Also, alternatives can be considered and put into action after evaluating them.

Your tendency to hang back shows itself when you think before you speak. You know the power of words to heal and/or harm others. Because you are more in tune with the feelings of others, you are more wary of hurting them, making you less likely to use hurtful words.

2) You are Likely to Sense Nuances with Your Keen Observation Skills

Perhaps it is the little difference in tone, the subtle use of a word, or the tiniest action that tips an introvert off that something has changed.

Being privy to the small things also gives you different perspectives and the ability to see things from alternate, often less obvious, angles.

You are likely to take note of changes your team members have made – improvements in their knowledge, abilities, or mood, for example.

Maybe you observed that one of them has a new fountain pen or that another is wearing new shoes.

When you take notice of even the little things and give compliments appropriately, it builds rapport with your team and, ultimately, trust.

3) You Take Time to Self-Reflect

Because you spend time being aware of your needs and thoughts, you can more easily observe them in others, allowing you to easily empathise with them.

Through evaluating your thoughts and actions, you are able to look at your own behaviour and your underlying motives, helping you to identify negative trends in your life and start to work towards positive change.

Knowing why you did or said something will also allow you to explain yourself should the need arise, and make it easier to receive feedback when it comes.

4) You Shine in One-on-One Situations

Many introverts dislike small talk. They find it tedious, superficial, and nearly useless for getting to know someone properly.

Because you seek to understand the deeper motivations of your team members, you want to get past the surface level and into their hearts so you can give them a chance to be heard and understood.

Remember that you are likely to have introverts on your team as well. They will appreciate one-on-one talks with you and this will help them to open up and get them to become more receptive and responsive.

5) You are a Balance to the Extroverts on your Team

There are times when quiet contemplation and thoughtful planning are required. As an introvert, these times come more naturally to you than they do to your extrovert team members. Set a session aside for such activities and everyone on your team will likely benefit.

Imagine how powerful your team will be if it has the combined strengths of both types. You need the extroverts just as much as they need you, the introvert, not only to work with, but also to learn from.

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