The only people who can secure leadership positions are extroverted, gregarious types, right?
In the private sector, some of the biggest leaders in business are introverts, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Plenty of well-known bloggers who lead online communities self-characterize themselves as introverted.
So, what’s the leadership power of these inward-focusing folks? How can introverted leaders be a good asset?
It’s great to hold the attention of a crowd, but it’s just as important to lend your ear to everyone in the room. Introverts tend to listen more than they talk, which puts the focus on the person to whom they’re speaking. Most people appreciate leaders who value their comments, so this habit — listening more than speaking — is a great recipe for building rapport.
It’s also vital for facilitating innovation. Introverted leaders tend to genuinely listen to contributions made by their team and remain open to new ideas.
Self-reflective by nature, introverted leaders are prone to analyzing problems in depth. In an increasingly complex world, this is a valued trait.
Not prone to highlighting their position in the hierarchy, introverted leaders tend to lead in an understated way. They don’t draw attention to themselves — they focus on the work at hand, and the people with whom they’re working. That approach can pay off because it allows everyone — leader or not — to shine.
Despite their merits, introverted leaders aren’t unanimously celebrated. Some people and businesses prefer an extrovert at the helm, or at least someone who shows glimmers of extroversion.
But those preferences shouldn’t deter introverts with leadership aspirations from climbing the ranks. Much like some outgoing leaders work to listen more than they speak, introverts can brush up on how well they engage with people during loud, impromptu social events.
So, introverts, revel in your understated power, even if the self-praise makes you feel uncomfortable. And don’t shy away from leadership opportunities — you could be exactly the type of leader your organization needs.