Introverts are a misunderstood bunch of people. It is a common stereotype that they are socially awkward loners that loathe large crowds. Introverts prefer quiet, minimally stimulating environments. Compared to extroverts, they think and act differently. Some would say that introverts do not make good leaders due to their personality traits.
Being an introvert myself, I struggle all the time when I just want to be left alone, without offending anyone. That’s the time I recharge.
I grew up shy and uncertain, afraid of challenging myself and avoiding speech competitions. Seeing others being so brave in joining this and that, I felt insecure, and I thought to myself, I can never be a somebody if I stay this way. As i grew older, I realize that you don’t need to be an outspoken and outgoing person to lead. It’s about the qualities you have as an individual and how you do your work.
“She’s too quiet, she wouldn’t be able to run this company”. The typical belief is that introverts can’t be good leaders. Here are some common misconceptions about introverts:
- All introverts are shy, and everyone that’s shy are all introverts. Being shy and introverted are two completely different things. Introverts are not necessarily shy or afraid of people, they just do not prefer to talk just for the sake of talking.
- Introverts do not like to be around people. Introverts often do their best work alone, and colleagues may not comprehend and think that they do not want to be a part of a group work. Truth is, introverts do not mind and actually enjoy working in these types of environments, as long as their voice and opinion is being heard and valued.
- Introverts do not make good leaders or public speakers. Some introverts may not like public speaking or speaking in large group settings, however, introverts are naturally gifted speakers. I’ve met a few introverts in my life that are so quiet and reserved, but when they give a presentation or speech, everybody’s impressed.
- Introverts are reserved and do not like to talk a lot. Introverts can actually be quite talkative if you’re talking about something that is actually meaningful. Take it from me, I do not talk a lot when I’m with a group of people, until someone starts talking about something I could actually relate to.
When you see the word “leader”, it is no surprise that the traits that are usually associated with leadership are self-confidence, charisma, drive, creativity, motivation, dominance. If you look up the word “extrovert”, words such as approachable, sociable, and friendly would usually appear. The words “leader” and “extrovert” are quite interrelated, however, not actually synonymous.
When it comes to picking a group leader, one might choose the ones that’s outspoken, outgoing, sociable and always excited about any opportunity to be recognized; to shine. Although, studies have actually shown that the best choice of a leader is more likely to be quiet and reserved person for one simple reason: they are more likely to listen and pay attention to what others have to say.
Fun fact: J.K. Rowling, Guy Kawasaki, Audrey Hepburn, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Meryl Streep are all introverts!
Here are six qualities of introverts that make them great leaders:
- Introverts are good listeners. This allows them to be close to everyone since almost everyone around them wants to share.
- Natural analysts. Good listeners means they are attentive, which makes them develop good analytical skills.
- Speak seldom, but deliberately. Before saying anything, they tend to think all possible of their outcomes of their talking. Some would call it overthinking. Thus they would know exactly when and what to say. When they open their mouths to speak, it should be a cue for everyone else to be quiet and listen, because they are going to say something that is worth hearing.
- Work well alone. Introverts embrace solitude. It is understood that introverts recharge themselves by spending time alone. The regular timeouts alone actually fuel their thinking, creativity and decision-making.
- Observing skills. Their tendency of being a silent observer makes them find the best solution possible, something that others may miss out.
- Humble. An introvert is full of humility, not looking to take credit for a great idea. Introverts tend to know where their position is, they know their sense of abilities and achievements, weaknesses and imperfections, all the key factors for getting ahead in both business and life.
If you’re just starting out, and you are an introvert, do not think that you aren’t capable of being a leader. In an extroverted dominated team, you want to be recognized for your qualities and what you can bring to the table.
As a leader, you would go to meetings dominated by extroverts, all fighting for attention, for their voice to be heard. An introvert leader sits, watches, listens and observe, digesting what is being discussed, and then only adds their own thoughts of wisdom.
As previously mentioned, introverts make great listeners, so keep in mind that you should listen more than you talk. This might probably be easy to you as it plays well into an introvert’s qualities.
Don’t let the limits you have limit you.
Don’t let those limits that you have set for yourself get in the way. You have insights. You may be more self-conscious compared to others. Confidence is common for someone to lack, but it will automatically come when they actually start taking it seriously and invest in themselves.
Everybody is unique.
Individuality is what makes us all unique, so pay attention to each person you work with. You may have to work with each person differently, and there is no two people that are identical, and with different approaches, you can see them unleash their very best.
Little Things Make Big Things Happen
It’s okay to take a moment to talk to your colleagues: the people that you lead to ask how things are going. John Maxwell said, “people do not care how much you know until they now how much you care”. Maybe to some, asking how things are going doesn’t matter, but it’s this little particular move that will turn everything around.