think you’re not leader material because you’re an introvert? think again.

According to research, about half the population is extroverted. Yet a hefty 96% of all managers and executives exhibit extroverted personality traits! That’s great if you happen to be an extrovert. But what if you’re not? Is there still a career trajectory with your name on it? We’re here to tell you: yes, there is!

All the best leaders demonstrate characteristics that are both extroverted and introverted. They need to be sensitive to situations when each set of characteristics is needed. An upset employee may require some introverted sensitivity, whereas giving a quarterly update will require some extroverted charisma.

In other words, there’s a balance to be struck so that a successful leader can lead everyone, not just the people who are most like them. Both introverts and extroverts need to step a little outside their comfort zone to be great leaders. The thing is, extroverts are usually more comfortable taking that kind of leap.

Why introverts make great leaders

what makes you an introvert?

Though introverts are stereotypically pictured as quiet loners who quiver when they have to speak up, that’s not really accurate. Introverts can enjoy being social just as much as extroverts, however, they typically need alone time afterward to process and gather their thoughts. As a result, introverts aren’t typically quick to respond. They need time to reflect and assess before producing a well-thought-out, analytical response that often includes a plan.

Introverts’ presentations are well prepared, carefully constructed and thoroughly thought out. They use their quiet strength to exert influence rather than volume or intimidation. They dive deep into projects rather than spreading themselves thin; as a result, they typically produce quality work with clear reasoning. And their teams tend to, as well. Introverts also tend to be humble (sometimes to the point of self-deprecation) and willing to hear and respect others’ opinions. They’re good listeners who are great with one-on-one, face-to-face communication.

All that said, introverts put a high value on alone time; in fact, it’s a requirement so they can refresh and energize. This is in contrast to extroverts, who thrive in social settings and draw their energy from human interactions. Extroverts may feel isolated or bored when they spend too much time alone. They thrive in brainstorming sessions that require them to be quick on their feet and bounce their ideas off of others.

what does an introverted leader look like?

Introverted managers must exhibit confidence to encourage ongoing communication and earn the trust and respect of those they lead, as well as their peers. Some of their strongest, most positive traits are patience, the ability to listen and carefully considering and measuring their responses. These are qualities extroverts have to adapt to and learn or risk steamrolling over their teams. While introverts may not be as outwardly enthusiastic as their outgoing, extroverted colleagues, introverts can learn skills that are typically associated with extroverts, such as speaking up and voicing their opinions, making decisions, or disciplining an employee, just as extroverted leaders must learn the introverted traits listed above.

The good news for introverts is that it seems to be easier for an introvert to adopt necessary extrovert tendencies and traits than the other way around. With a work culture whose biases and stereotypes have historically valued and rewarded overt enthusiasm and a vibrant personality over quiet introspection, many introverts are sensitive to the need for change while their extroverted peers may not be so inclined or even recognize the need to change.

introverted leaders influence the office culture

Introverts bring their own kind of energy to the workplace and to the role of leader. If given the opportunity to play to their strengths, they’re effective, dependable leaders who build a loyal following. They may hold smaller, more frequent meetings. Their schedules will include decompression time, allowing them to process and plan.

Since introverts don’t like to be micromanaged, they’re less likely to do so themselves as managers. That said introverts do pay attention to details. They need to feel prepared for any situation, particularly for social situations such as giving presentations or large meetings with others. As a result, their teams are likely to produce well researched, more thorough quality work and are more likely to think proactively and preemptively, even if it isn’t in their personal nature to do so.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, introverts make great leaders because they recognize that everyone is different. They’re more likely to highlight employees’ strengths and help them manage their weaknesses. They’re sensitive to and value the diversity different personalities bring to the workplace. And in today’s working climate, that’s a real advantage.

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