When you think about a successful leader, I’m sure a reserved, unassuming introvert is not what popped into your head. Studies have shown that the majority of executives in leadership positions are extroverts. It’s what we have come to expect in a leader. Just think about the people that are often selected for leadership roles, and the bias is evident.
I’m an extreme introvert, but rather than letting that hold me back, I used it to my advantage.
For the past 20 years, I’ve held senior leadership positions. My last two roles operated at the c-suite CEO level. Leading Australia’s largest network of home builders. And one of Australia’s largest wholesale travel companies. I achieved this success, because of my introvert qualities.
I embrace my introvert qualities and use them to my advantage. I encourage more introverts to embrace the possibility of leading an organisation. Here’s why.
Most introverts have the ability to focus for long periods. Success cannot be achieved without focus, and any successful person will tell you this. Focus allows you to make progress, to be effective in your work. If you’re distracted and don’t have clear direction, how can you lead your team? How can you get them to buy into your vision and strategy?
I gain focus by removing any distractions. Don’t try to do too many things at once; you’ll be the master of none. Clearly, have your strategies mapped out and work towards them. Multi tasking is too exhausting, and you’ll achieve nothing if you jump from one thing to another. Work on one task until it’s done.
Experts At Preparation
Focus periods are the perfect opportunity for reflection, analysing, researching and envisioning. Many introverts don’t like to present in front of people, yet as leaders, this is part of the role. For me the key is preparation, I tend to think and plan before I speak and act.
Introverts are commonly misunderstood for being shy. I’m not shy; I do however like to leverage my quiet nature. In meetings, I am often the most prepared person in the room, and this provides me with knowledge. When I speak, it is calm, with clarity and deliberately. This approach has allowed me to “own” the moment and create a powerful presence.
In business, the key to being prepared is to do your research. Know what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it and how you plan to reach this goal. To make your presentation more interesting try to have stories to support your goal. I have found being prepared in meetings, lead to my team follow suit.
Introvert leaders are great listeners, and they prefer to let other people do the talking. Introverts listen intently to what others are saying rather than seeking the limelight. Introverts have a genuine interest in others and their ideas and learning from others. Introverts love learning; they are primarily motivated to continue to seek to develop and grow, according to Susan Cain, author of, Quiet; The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.
One of the most valuable skills a good leader possesses is effective listening and learning from others. It’s a skill many business owners need to develop. A workplace that is engaged is more productive and profitable.
I have used this quality to leverage results. I believe in listening to customers and their insights. By listening to your customers, you will ensure your business remains relevant. Without your staff and your customers you don’t have a business, so listen up!
Master Of Humility And Strong Willed
They are strong, honest, reflective and self-aware. Introverts are not interested in leadership for praise. They tend to prefer to stay away from that style of character. Their emphasis is on achieving a goal, not on themselves. Introverts are servant leaders. Their primary focus is to serve others and empower their team to grow and develop.
The vital element of humility in business is to be open to the opinions of others. Seek input from your staff and create an environment of collaboration. Micromanaging people kills moral. Empower your team, and their engagement will skyrocket, and you’ll see results. Humility does not come easily to everyone, self-reflection and awareness are crucial.
Introvert leaders bring a high level of creativity to the table, compared to extroverts. It doesn’t mean that extroverts are not creative. But introverts, given their focus and analytical mindset, tend to find solutions to problems. They are patient and take the time to methodically consider the solution or strategy to overcome a problem. This approach often creates a culture of innovation within the businesses.
Introverts are calm and collected. Frantic and chaotic businesses are catalysts for high emotions. In these environments an Introvert’s presence offers stability. Their calming energy creates an atmosphere of trust and safety for their team.
Results and performance are ultimately paramount in business. There are many roads to success, but what I’ve learned over 20 years in business, is that you’re only as good as the team around you. Empower your team, celebrate their success and shine the light on them.
It’s just a myth that extroverts are more effective leaders than introverts. No matter what your character type, leverage your strengths to lead your business and team.