Can Introverts Be Effective Leaders?

In a world full of fast-moving trends and constantly changing business landscapes, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. This is especially true for those of us with an introverted personality and leadership style. Our extroverted counterparts are comfortable in the spotlight and we are more than happy to give it to them, but that certainly doesn’t mean that we are weak or inefficient leaders. In fact, introverts possess several qualities that can serve them extremely well in leadership roles and put them at the head of the pack.

Introverts are great listeners…

By nature, introverts prefer to listen much more than they speak. This can be an especially important quality in any leadership setting. The ability to open their ears and minds to the ideas and thoughtful suggestions of those that are closest to you is an amazing attribute of quality leadership.

They think before they speak…

If you are looking for a quick answer to an important question, chances are you will not get it (or at least not the one you want) from an introvert. Predisposed to expressing themselves through writing rather than speech, they prefer to mull things over before offering feedback or advice. This is because introverts prefer to think through important decisions for hours, or even days before offering suggestions to solve a problem or chart a new direction. They will rarely fall victim to making a snap decision just for the sake of time or peer pressure.

They are really good at building meaningful relationships…

Large quantities of surface level relationships are not what the typical introvert is interested in. By nature, they are more interested in building deeper and more meaningful relationships, even if that means having less of them. External and internal relationships are the very basis of business success, and quality relationships are one thing that introverts are great at. These relationships give them credibility and trust, which can in turn offer leverage when it comes time to gain buy-in.

Introverts are usually emotionally balanced…

They know when their mental tanks have been exhausted and know precisely when to seek time to recharge their batteries. Introverts often work exhaustively to accomplish tasks, but they typically will not push themselves to a point of mental or physical breakdown. This can help to alleviate the risk of burnout, which can cripple any organization if left unchecked.

They work extremely well autonomously…

Not only do introverts work effectively alone, most of the time they prefer it. When you give a capable introvert enough space and blocks of uninterrupted time, there is no limit to what can be accomplished. This allows them to maintain a laser focus on the priorities of the day, and most importantly allows them to systematically and successfully navigate the organization around obstacles.

They are typically humble by nature…

This goes back to the whole spotlight thing from above. Not only are introverts willing to share the spotlight, they are often willing to give you the whole stage. This means that they often care more about the success of the organization as a whole, than about their own individual achievements. This bodes well for the organization and its’ employees because there is rarely a need to question the loyalty and intention of a humble leader.

Introverts are excellent team players…

When it comes to getting things done, not only are they more than happy to pitch in and help accomplish the mission but they are less concerned about who gets the credit for the achievement. This isn’t to say that all extroverts are selfish or that all introverts are selfless, but by our very nature we are less likely to seek out applause or attention, especially in a public setting. In leadership roles, this same aspect extends to those who work with and for the introverted leader.

I am certainly not naive enough to believe that every introvert is a great leader, just as every extrovert isn’t a poor one. I believe that there are too many preconceived notions regarding introverts and their ability to lead successfully. It isn’t everyday that you see the terms introvert and leader in the same sentence, but the list of successful introverts, who are or were also leaders is extensive. The list contains names such as Albert Einstein, Mahatma Ghandi, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Warren Buffet.

The qualities that these great leaders are known and remembered for are the same qualities that many people still respect and expect from their leaders at any level. Qualities such as cool-headedness in the face of adversity, prudent thinking, and exhibiting a sort of quiet power. These leaders, and thousands of others continue to prove each and everyday that effective leaders come in all shapes, sizes, and personalities.

Published by

Justin Skains

Hard-working husband, father, coach, and amateur ultra-marathoner who prides himself on results day-in and day-out...and oh yes, I love to write!

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