When you hear the term “Leader” it is easy to visualize the prototypical dynamic and vocal individual with the outstretched arms calling, “Follow me.” While it is true that many of our most celebrated leaders are stereotypical extroverts, that doesn’t mean they are the only effective managers and executives.
Many successful individuals in positions of leadership are, instead, what would be considered on the other end of that personality spectrum. If you feel you are best classified as an introvert, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a very effective leader and manager. In fact, Forbes reports that a full 40% of executives describe themselves as introverts, including Microsoft’s Bill Gates, the über-investors Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab, Avon’s chief executive, Andrea Jung, and the late publishing giant Katharine Graham. These famous introverts prove the point that it takes the correct mix of personalities and styles to make any team as productive as possible.
Moreover, there are times and circumstances that call for a more introspective and thoughtful style than is often shown in the characteristics of introverted leaders. The special traits of the leader who might have the base personality of an introvert are often especially useful in the global environment.
Reflect on these advantages an introvert brings to a leadership situation:
- An understanding of followership. It is a basic concept of many who study the issue of leadership that it takes a good follower to be a great leader. The introvert has often gained a position of authority by being an essential and productive follower. These insights allow them to lead with a better understanding of the needs and expectations of those who serve under them.
- More finely tuned listening skills. It is in the nature of the introvert to listen more than speak. This skill of listening and hearing is increasingly essential in the global environment. It is often the nuances and even the unspoken words that convey the true meaning of any communication. This makes the ability to listen before speaking and acting an extremely important leadership trait.
- Use of a more methodical and planned approach. You understand as an introvert that the more you think a problem and possible solutions through, the better the plan of action. Of course, you also avoid the paralysis of analysis by acting on the best information available at the time.
- Creation of a more collaborative environment. If you have the traits of an introvert, you will tend to make your subordinates and team members feel more comfortable. When these individuals feel safe and free in exercising initiative and expressing opinions, the organization benefits as a whole.
By paying more attention to details, pondering the pros and cons before making a decision, and avoiding impulsive actions, people high in introversion have everything they need to excel as a leader. Use these attractive traits to help your team meet its organizational objectives.
Whether you are an introverted or an extroverted leader make sure to check out our free eBook, 4 Critical Aspects of Leading Cross-Cultural Teams Remotely, and don't miss out on Thunderbird's new Transformational Global Leadership Journey.