Have you noticed how often leaders rarely tend to be people who are of a quieter disposition, who appear more thoughtful, perhaps who are even considered ‘gentle’?
The convention for leadership in the western world is for them to be ‘bold’, ‘outgoing’, some might say ‘loud’.
Yet, around 55% of the adult population of the UK are at the introvert end of the personality type spectrum (note: this does not mean they’re shy!).
These introverts often miss out on leadership roles for the simple reason that convention strongly implies they don’t have what it takes.
Rubbish! Absolute rubbish!
So, here are 17 reasons (there are many more!) for more proactively considering introverts as leaders:
(To find out if you are introvert or extrovert, click here a free Jungian type test (often known as a Myers-Briggs test))
1: They’re prudent
Introverts are great at weighing up the pros and cons of every decision, and so tend to make decisions, and be leaders everyone respects
2: They’re brilliant listeners
Because their ‘inner voice’ tends to be quieter than an extrovert’s, introverts have an innate ability to listen. Often, brilliantly. As a result, they usually get far more out of their colleagues (including quite a few things they wouldn’t tell anyone else) than their extrovert co-workers. One of the most important skills for any leader is the ability and willingness to listen to everyone.
3: What they say is valuable.
Introverts usually listen more, think more, and speak less. As a result, when they do have something to say, it’s usually very valuable and something that earns the respect from those around them. In other words, others soon learn how important it is to listen to their introvert colleagues. All of the great leaders will have earned the ‘right’ to be listened to.
4: They know their limitations
Introverts tend to be more forthcoming in accurately understanding and acknowledging their limitations…and aren’t afraid to let others know about them. If an introvert needs help, they’ll ask for it – another great quality in a leader.
5: They embrace uncertainty
Uncertainty is something introverts tend to think of as something they can really get their teeth into. They’re also very open to new ideas and opposing views, as well as being great listeners, all of which they use to help them make better decisions. Leaders, perhaps above everything else, are there to make good decisions.
6: Working on their own is easy for them
Yes, they work happily as part of a team too, but they really excel when they have to work alone – and, let’s face it, that’s something we all have to do at some point, isn’t it? Leaders often experience needs on their responsibilities that includes things that they do alone – and introverts are quite happy about this!
7: Quiet time is good for you!
Introverts find ‘quiet time’ a great way to re-charge and refresh their batteries. Our extrovert colleagues tend to prefer being among people, perhaps in busy or noisy places too, to do the same. Having the ability to be quiet, encourages others to be more open with you, and gives you a better chance of accurately hearing what is being said without your inner voice ‘colouring’ it. Another important quality for leadership!
8: They often have a calming influence
Introverts tend to be calm people. They also tend to have tremendous inner strength. As a result, their calm demeanour has a habit of rubbing-off on those around them. Calm heads tend to work better as a team, think more clearly (remember Sir Clive Woodward’s “think clearly under pressure” (T-CUP)), and make better decisions. Any leader needs a calm head too!
9: They build more meaningful relationships
Because introverts enjoy talking on a one-to-one basis, or in small groups, and because they listen so well, and because they think before they speak, they tend to innately devote the time to building meaningful and valuable relationships. An excellent skill in the worlds of business networking and leadership.
10: They’re very well prepared
Introverts tend to be ‘detail people’ and so will almost always be very well prepared. Every leader benefits from excellent preparation.
11: They’re information junkies
Because introverts like to learn, they tend to be very knowledgeable indeed on the subjects they choose to speak or enter into discussion about. But they also like to learn from others who can expand their understanding. Both are highly desirable traits of good leaders.
12: They’re great in stressful situations
Introverts are great at keeping calm, almost no matter what. Leadership, whether you like it or not, will include a fair amount of stress. Due to their calmness, introverts usually deal very well with stressful situations and remain clear thinkers, and are able to deliver positive outcomes from them. Leaders benefits from these abilities too.
13: They often see the ‘big picture’
Introverts are excellent at being detached from the situation when needed. As a result, they are great at looking at, and understanding the ‘big picture’ and working out what is required to ensure a positive solution. The best leaders do this habitually.
14: If you want someone to study the details, find an introvert
That’s right! Introverts relish the chance to bury themselves in the details, especially if an important conclusion needs to be extracted from them. Their colleagues soon learn to give the ‘hard stuff’ to their quieter colleagues. Leaders need the ability to understand the details too.
15: They treat everyone as equals
From the newest, part-time employee, to the group chairman, the one person who will treat everyone exactly the same, and as equals, will be your quiet colleague! Great leaders earn the trust of, and get the very best out of their people by treating them equally and fairly.
16: They make excellent decisions
Introverts are usually highly rational, practical, and balanced decision-makers. They also are great at considering all of the relevant information and views, and understanding the needs of all those affected. So, they have a habit of making excellent decisions – just what is needed in leadership!
17: They have high levels of emotional intelligence
People will often think of introverts as being ‘well balanced’. They are also well known for be highly aware of their own emotional states and the emotional states of others, and how these states influence thoughts and behaviours (one of the most important building blocks of emotional intelligence). They then take these into account when making decisions, and interacting with others. Just as leaders should!
So, there you are – there are many, many reasons introverts make great leaders – and many of the leaders of the world’s most successful companies are introverts too. For example, Bill Gates (Microsoft), Larry Page (Google), Elon Musk (of Tesla fame), Theresa May (British Prime Minister), Warren Buffett (noted investor), to name but a few.
If you are an introvert who is in a leadership position, or looking to move into one, I can work with you to develop your skills, abilities and thinking to ensure you and your career continue to go from strength to strength.
To find out more about the benefits of professional coaching and mentoring, particularly in developing leadership, strategy and growing a business, please contact me:
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© Adrian Malpass 2017. All rights reserved.