The Power of the Introverted Leader

Words often used to describe successful business leaders include extroverted, charismatic, confident, dominating, singled-minded, focused and opinionated. In varying psychometric assessments, they often appear as high D (dominant), high A (alpha), high E (extroverted) or high red (task orientated or driver). It’s interesting to note, many CEOs also have the same psychological profile as psychopaths.

At Peeplcoach, we work with hundreds of coachees every month to help them accelerate their leadership impact and performance to build more successful careers. While not everyone aspires to be the next Elon Musk, many emerging and developing leaders do want to progress to the next level. One statement – or a variation of it – that we often hear is: ‘But I am not that extroverted, so how do I inspire a team or get heard in the boardroom?’

I recently read an article in Fast Company about introverted leadership, in which some compelling points were made on this issue.

Firstly, what is introversion? The Oxford Dictionary describes it as ‘the quality of being shy and reticent’. In practical terms, common attributes of introversion include greater reflectiveness, less impulsiveness, superior listening skills, higher analytical and problem-solving skills and, overall, greater and deeper consideration of issues.

Unfortunately, these traits are often overlooked when it comes to looking for a new CEO to take a business to the next level. But introverts have a lot to offer when it comes to leading. Some of the benefits of introverted leaders include the following.

  • They engender greater trust from team members because introverts generally think before they speak and are considered with their responses.
  • Collaboration is improved as introverts do not desire the limelight and are happy to give others space to share their thoughts and be heard.
  • Introverts allow the time to gather and review information to find appropriate solutions, rather than taking ill-considered immediate action.
  • They encourage and fast-track career development for their employees by allowing them to be seen and shine.
  • Through improved listening and observation, introverts are often able to ‘read between the lines’ rather than simply accepting what is said at face value.
  • Introverts don’t waste time speaking unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, these benefits are not always recognised in this fast-paced world. If you are an ambitious introverted leader, consider boosting your profile by:

  • volunteering for a high-profile project or speaking event
  • scheduling a time to speak to your manager about your achievements and how you are feeling about your current role
  • ensuring that you do contribute to team discussions and are heard
  • scheduling 1:1 time with key stakeholders, industry mentors and icons
  • preparing in advance for ‘extroverted activities’, such as networking events, by practising your elevator pitch or identifying a few individuals you would like to meet
  • continuing to prove yourself through your actions and results
  • learning to be more comfortable in taking credit for your achievements.

Are you an introvert looking to build your career? Or do you want to find out more about the best ways to support introverts in your team? Book a time with one of the team to discuss!