Even in this day and age of progression and enlightenment, there are still concepts that human society have 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. When 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.
In fact, introverts are certainly the confident ones who truly believe in themselves. Introverts are comfortable with their own being, investing in oneself all the time with their alone time, and are very self-sufficient individuals.
Introverts continuously thrive in the company of others, as well as an active social environment, which is what sets them apart from their extrovert counterparts. Furthermore, these are the very same characteristics of what makes these individuals excellent leaders.
And, indeed, they do make excellent leaders, equally dominating the managerial and business world alongside their counterparts – from the co-founder of Google, Sergey Brin, to president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet.
Introverts sure do spew big and well-known individuals, with the co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, to 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 now focus on how exactly introverts can transform into better and wondrous leaders. They have the full potential and talent in turning what might be considered as 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, a very fine and vital trait is to possess the ability to be able to mobilize your teammates.
A strength inherent within an introvert, for they are ones who 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. It is for this quality of theirs that gives them the talent of cultivating others.
From their active words of encouragement to the meaningful and heartfelt conversations, you will surely encounter with these individuals. They can provide the perfect environment for self-love and growth.
That being said, the introvert will only need to interact with each member of their team, which will not prove to 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 embrace them too. Oftentimes, introverted individuals are accused of being lackluster people, and they are 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 for 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 at hand before responding. This is advantageous for introverts, especially in a room full of extroverted counterparts.
They are able to shine and step up the most. This is indeed a factual statement in accordance to 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 an inordinate amount of 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.
In a time where 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 trait of a good leader. Since introverts spend a lot of time mingling in 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 that demonstrates this creative potential is featured in a book titled “The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength” by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler. In one of her chapters, she talks about when introverted leaders creatively transform what might be considered a weakness into a strength.
She highlights 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 is an instance when a perceived negative attribute was transferred into a positive trait.
Of course, there are various ways of cultivating the inner talent that introverts have, 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 that introverts bring to businesses will not only help grow organizations, but it 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: www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/5-simple-and-effective-leadership-tips-for-introverts.html.
Grant, A., et al. (2010, December). The hidden advantages of quiet bosses. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2010/12/the-hidden-advantages-of-quiet-bosses.
Kahnweiler, J. (2013). The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength. San Francisco, California. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.