A common introvert myth is that introverts don’t make good leaders. Not only is it wrong, but many introverts make brilliant leaders. This article shares four thoughts about introvert leaders that you could learn from (whether introvert or extrovert) to become a better leader.
It often seems we have an extroverted model of business and in that extrovert dominant model outgoing dominant people are perceived as better leaders.
Can introverts be great leaders?
We could debate what leadership is and you may, or may not, think that Virgin, Microsoft or Facebook are great companies. It’s probably fair to say that they are well known companies and the leaders who built them up are great leaders. It’s reported that Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are introverts.
So can introverts be great leaders.
Introvert leadership superpowers
My small survey shows that introverts get a bad rap when it comes to leadership. More importantly larger surveys show this too. According to Harvard Business Review a 2006 survey showed that 65% of senior corporate executives viewed introversion as a barrier to leadership, and other studies have shown that highly extroverted U.S. presidents are perceived as more effective. https://hbr.org/2010/12/the-hidden-advantages-of-quiet-bosses
But introverts typically have some abilities that could make them great leaders.
- Listening skills: Introverts tend to be great listeners. As a leader being comfortable hearing feedback or comments from your team and being receptive to ideas can help you to engage a wide range of your team. Many leadership experts say that it’s seen as a great advantage to have workers who share their ideas for business improvement. If your team know you listen to them, they’re more likely to engage more.
- Think to talk or talk to think? Neither external processing or internal processing are good, or bad, but they can have contextual advantages or disadvantages. One of the downsides of listening to an external processor talk is that it becomes confusing as they think out loud. Introverts tend to need internal processing time in which they will make connections between the details they’ve observed. You may need to make it OK for you to think before responding but being known for always following up to discuss your thoughts can be a great benefit.
- Allow others to shine: A perceived downside of many introverts is that they don’t like to be in the limelight. But if that means the introverted leader is happy to help their team takes the limelight, that’s a powerful thing.
- Not overlooking introverts: Whether because of an appreciation of introversion, or because introverts tend to run more inclusive meetings, introverted leaders are more likely to close the introvert productivity gap and get all their introverts fully engaged. It’s not true that people who don’t speak up in meetings don’t have anything useful to add. Introverts become less likely to add their points when more extroverted team members dominate the discussion. Running effective meetings that make things happen and getting the whole team engaged increases productivity and creativity.
What introvert superpowers do you think help leadership and how are you developing them?