Even in this day and age of progression and enlightenment, there are still concepts that human society has yet to grasp fully. One of which is in the context of introversion.
In a society heavily dominated by extroverts, the most frequent and quite the biggest misconception about introversion is its automatic affiliation with shyness, insecurity, or lack of self-confidence. In truth, anyone can experience all of these at some point in their lives, introvert or not.
An introvert embodies the characteristics of one who takes delight in solitude, self-reflection, and time for oneself. Not necessarily out of loneliness or low self-esteem, but that of preference and choice.
Introverts are certainly the confident ones who genuinely believe in themselves. Introverts are comfortable with their being, investing in themselves all the time with their alone time, and are very self-sufficient.
Introverts continuously thrive in the company of others and in an active social environment, which sets them apart from their extrovert counterparts. Furthermore, these are the very same characteristics that make these individuals excellent leaders.
And indeed, they make excellent leaders, equally dominating the managerial and business world alongside their counterparts – from the co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, to the president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet.
Introverts sure do spew prominent and well-known individuals, from the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, to the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos. It is without a doubt that introverts are more than capable of thriving just as hard as extroverts, maybe even more with their unique talents and strengths.
With the possibilities and wonders of introverts now established, let us focus on how exactly introverts can transform into better and wondrous leaders. They have the full potential and talent to turn what might be considered a weakness into one of their greatest strengths and advantage.
Cultivating the Best in Others
A great leader walks among the sides of his men, leaving no one behind. And while there is no concrete list of what exactly dictates good leadership, an outstanding and vital trait is the ability to mobilize your teammates.
A strength inherent within an introvert for the value and embrace the best and authentic selves of others the most. This is due to their personal experiences.
They know what it’s like to want to self-love, which is in their field of expertise from their years of spending time and investment in themselves. This quality of theirs gives them the talent to cultivate others.
You will undoubtedly encounter these individuals, from their active words of encouragement to meaningful and heartfelt conversations. They can provide the perfect environment for self-love and growth.
That being said, the introvert will only need to interact with each team member, which will not be much of a problem as these individuals thrive in helping others transform into the best versions of themselves.
Embracing their Comfort Zones
Everyone benefits when introverts embrace themselves, more so when everyone around introverts embraces them too. Often, introverted individuals are accused of being lackluster and misunderstood for their natural and passive nature.
This is entirely rooted in the misconception that society still has the nonsensical idea that introversion is strongly connected to shyness and insecurity. Thus, causing the mistake that silence and unassertiveness equate to low self-confidence.
When in reality, introspection is the hallmark of self-awareness. A self-aware individual is thoughtful and strategic in his decision-making.
When in lengthy meetings and gatherings, the nature of an introvert is to remain silent in contemplating an effective solution to the problem before responding. This is advantageous for introverts, especially in a room full of extroverted counterparts.
They can shine and step up the most. This is indeed a factual statement by research published in the Harvard Business Review, titled “The Hidden Advantages of Quiet Bosses,” wherein it concluded that:
“In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders – particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business. Such behavior can make extroverted leaders feel threatened. In contrast, introverted leaders tend to listen more carefully and show greater receptivity to suggestions, making them more effective leaders of vocal teams.”
Additionally, introverted leaders are active listeners, spending excessive time doing deep dives into the inner workings of their colleagues. This is a critical trait to possess, as the introverted leader demonstrates to be empathic and sympathetic to the needs and wants of others.
When many people are reaching for larger megaphones, the best strategy for introverts is to maintain a calm and calculated approach to problem-solving and people management.
Creating New Ways and Angles
Introverts are generally reserved individuals who choose to socialize with a collective few for their own sake. However, there are many ways to cultivate that into a good leader trait. Since introverts spend a lot of time mingling with the thoughts in their head, they are sure to have creative ideas that they may use to create new ways of doing things.
After all, they use their inner intellectual prowess to get by instead of relying on quick-witted intellect.
One instance demonstrating this creative potential is featured in a book titled “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength” by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler. One of her chapters talks about when introverted leaders creatively transform what might be considered a weakness into a strength.
She highlighted an instance when a manager was confronted and told that he was too laid-back in his career. From then on, when the manager was given the opportunity as a senior leader, he transformed his laid-back persona into a presence that projected a calm demeanor of confidence, producing a “sense of ease, poise, and self-assurance” that transferred to everyone around him.
This was when a perceived negative attribute was transferred into a positive trait.
Of course, introverts have various ways of cultivating their inner talent, a few of which were only mentioned in this article.
But the overarching takeaway for introverts is to embrace the traits that encompass an effective leader, such as active listening, empathy, and self-empowering initiatives. Invariably, introverts can become better leaders by continuing to look within themselves more deeply rather than adapt to an extroverted-leaning society.
In the end, the inner strength and resources introverts bring to businesses will help grow organizations but will also help transform the world for the better.
—Franklin G. Thomas
Christ, S. (n.d.). 5 simple and effective leadership tips for introverts. Lifehack. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3PjSTQq.
Grant, A., et al. (2010, December). The hidden advantages of quiet bosses. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://bit.ly/3Pow666.
Kahnweiler, J. (2013). The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. San Francisco, California. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.