While research shows that more extraverts reach the C-suite, there is growing evidence that introverts can make effective leaders. How introverts can gain the confidence they need to lead their teams effectively and benefit any organization.
Techies are often used to laboring alone, and that suits them just fine. Their introverted personalities are geared toward communicating via email or texts and they don’t stress about presentations in front of big groups because they simply think they will never be in that position.
Until, of course, they’re tapped to fill a leadership role.
More engineering, science and technology employees are finding that their growing experience and skills have brought them to the notice of high-ups. With the increasing focus on using technology and data to meet strategic goals, it’s clear more of these introverts are going to find themselves thrust into the leadership arena.
If you’re one of those people, don’t worry. There are many ways you can thrive as a leader, even if you are an introvert. That’s why it’s time to gain some confidence in what you bring to the table, and help you see that while you may do things differently as an introvert, your leadership can be valuable.
For example, in her book, “Communication Toolkit for Introverts,” author Patricia Weber explains that the brains of introverts are hard-wired to be better at planning and more likely to identify potential problems. Introverts, she says, will always take steps to minimize risk, which can help teams become more trusting of such a leader.
The focus on planning by introverts also can lead to meetings that are more focused and relevant; conflict resolution that is well thought-out and not based on not a knee-jerk reaction; and well-prepared negotiation plans that lead to better outcomes, she says.
“With many parts of planning being mostly in the head, and being what lights up our introvert brain, we have a decided advantage,” says Weber, an introvert coach.
In addition, a study by the Center for Leadership at Florida International University found that “introverts and extroverts were equally effective as leaders in both academic and corporate environments indicating that introversion is not an obstacle to leadership performance in either competitive or nurturing environments.”
Here are some other ways that your introverted ways can boost your leadership effectiveness:
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3. You come across as more authentic. Introverts are more likely to think more deeply about the questions they want to ask, and so don’t waste time quizzing their teams on inconsequential matters. Asking pertinent questions demonstrates a leader who is willing to address the sometimes tough – but genuine – issues. They also stay true to who they are and make other team members feel they are appreciated for their natural strengths.
4. You spot problems before they blow up. While an extraverted leader may be busy chatting in the breakroom with colleagues, the introverted one is reading over reports and discovering a possible glitch in a new system. The need for quiet reflection often means an introvert will take the time for a deep breath and thinking time away from the hustle of an office, which can provide some critical perspective.
5. You are more collaborative. Introverts are willing to jump in and help others because they don’t feel a need to dominate a project and are interested in input from others. In their planning processes, they are focused on long-term success of the team, not short-term glory for their own career.
6. You are a calming presence. At a time when more companies are opting for open offices, or technology makes everyone feel they must always be connected and busy, the introverted leader’s quiet personality takes the pressure off teams who may feel like they always have to be “on.” There may be days when a team feels it does nothing but fight fires, but the introverted leader provides a reassuring, steady demeanor that can help ratchet down the tension and stress.
Finally, when you feel your confidence needs a boost, remind yourself that you’re in good company: The list of introverted leaders includes Bill Gates and Abraham Lincoln.