“Extroverts make the best leaders.” This statement is simply not true. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t be a good leader. As an introvert I never believed I had any business being a leader and always shied away from taking on big roles and responsibilities partly because I always felt misunderstood and honestly being around people was and is exhausting. As I have gotten older and found myself in positions where I need to give oversight and lead a team, I have had to get over these stereotypes and attitudes and recognize that there are different leadership styles. Today I am sharing some tips and tricks that can help you become a better and more effective leader without having to change who you fundamentally are;
- Take advantage of your introvert super power; Introverts are usually astute observers, introspective and good listeners. Instead of trying to adapt to be more like your extroverted counterparts, recognize those very traits as strengths that will ensure you always come back to your team with valuable information or feedback which will ultimately help build trust and buy-in with them.
- Be honest with your team; Communicate with your team from the get go how you prefer to work and report back to them. Also communicate your expectations clearly to them. If you need time to reflect on a particular issue before you can respond, make that clear to them and give them a clear time line within which they can expect your feedback. A common misconception about an introvert’s silence (aka reflection is you are uncommunicative or shy). It’s therefore important to communicate your process with your team so that you are not perceived as either one. Your team needs to be confident that you are competent and present.
- Allow your work to speak for itself; As an introvert, you will unlikely be the most vocal person in the room. Even if you do speak up, the extroverts in the room may overshadow you when trying to get their points across. Instead of allowing that to frustrate you, go back and make sure you deliver results every time. You have the ability to zone in on something and see the bigger picture. Be known as the person who never disappoints but consistently delivers. Do your best to excel in your field.
- Plan and prepare ahead; Sometimes during meetings you may be required to give quick answers to issues that arise and as an introvert, it may be hard to do just that because introverts generally prefer to mull and reflect on things before they give an answer. This could negatively affect the way you are perceived by your team. To counter that, make sure you know the agenda and try to think through possible issues that may arise and make notes of your talking points ahead of the meeting.
- Schedule smaller, less formal meetings; Because introverts generally feel depleted of energy from having people around them, as an introvert where possible you could consider having one on one lunch/breakfast meetings or choosing to have smaller departmental team meetings as opposed to having big meetings with the entire team. These are less overwhelming and will give you a chance to be heard and take center stage.
- Take a time out; Introverts draw energy from within, so take time everyday just for yourself to recover and recharge for the rest of the day. This is crucial to maintaining your balance and making sure you are in a position to pour into your team. Set clear boundaries on when and how your team can access you so that you ensure you are still meeting their needs and accomplishing your goals while also taking time off for yourself. It can also be helpful to leave ample time between big meetings. Try not to schedule too many events and large meetings in the same week.
- Get out of your comfort zone; This seems counter-intuitive but it is absolutely necessary to your growth as a leader. You need to stay grounded in what you are great at yes, but do venture out and take on a more active role in your field. A great place to start is taking on some classes or coaching sessions to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses and how best to capitalize on your strengths to bring about best results. It doesn’t hurt to go the extra mile every time.
At the end of the day, whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, there is leadership potential in you. If you have conviction in your vision, are passionate and exude confidence, people will rally behind you. As an introvert you probably are discerning and intuitive, a good listener and great at connecting with people on a really personal level. You already have the makings of a great leader. So go out today and make money moves!
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Have an awesome week!