7 Tips to Leadership Success for Introverts

According to research on leadership and group dynamics from Wharton professor Adam Grant and two colleagues, extroverts make great leaders. But that’s not always true. The fact that most leaders are extroverts does not mean that extroverts make the best leaders. You don’t need to look very far to find successful introverts who possess strong business management skills. Leaders like Elon Musk, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg challenge the notion that introverts do not possess strong leadership skills.

Person with arms raised above clouds at sunrise exuding success.

In reality, there are many cases in which an introverted leader is a better option than an extroverted leader. As an introverted leader, how you handle adversity can mean the difference between the success and failure of your company. Here are 7 tips to lead your team to success—as quietly as you please.

7 Tips for Leadership Success for Introverts

1. Play to Your Strengths

Introverts are naturally receptive and take the time to reflect before speaking. In the extroverted business world, these are two very rare characteristics. Use these skills to build rapport and strengthen business relationships. When options present themselves, trust your process. Take time to reflect and use your inner judgment about the situation at hand.

Introverts are also great at noticing the strengths of others. Use this vision to your advantage by assigning tasks to the people with the proper skills to get them done. Introverted leaders work well by empowering those around them to succeed as a whole.

2. Make Meetings Matter

man in suit reading business section of newspaperBetween socialization and vague meeting objectives, a meeting can serve as little more than an interruption to the actual workday. As an introvert, leverage your need to be prepared to make meetings run smoothly. Have a well-defined objective. Should the meeting go off course, bring it immediately back to the objective. It may not win you many “social points” but doing this ensures that meetings are productive and useful.

3. Schedule Downtime

Introverts can become exhausted in leadership roles. With meetings, phone calls, emails and the day-to-day routine of the office, it is easy to get burned out. Scheduling time each day to turn off the notifications and relax can work wonders for your mental attitude and business outlook.

4. Team up with an Extrovert

looking at two people through space in books in libraryFor every great leader who is an introvert, there is an extroverted partner in the mix somewhere. The famous example is the pairing of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, the founders of Apple. Wozniak, the introverted idea man, happily embraced Steve Job’s extroverted personality, and the team grew the company from their humble bedroom headquarters into the technology giant they are today.

Where things like small talk and socialization can exhaust introverts, extroverts seem to thrive on such activities. If you are an introverted leader, consider teaming up with an extroverted partner on business trips and in meetings where socialization is a must.

5. Challenge Your Employees

If you don’t like the idea that the spotlight of your company is always on you, take a step back and appreciate your employees’ unique gifts. Highlighting employees who do exceedingly well keeps the spotlight on the company’s work and pushes other employees to emulate their behavior. It won’t take away from your responsibility as the face of the company, but it can help spread the attention to other people who deserve it.

6. Challenge Yourself

man starring at challenging material on wallAs much as you challenge your employees to better themselves, you should also be challenging yourself. While the simple idea of public speaking may make you need a nap, it is a habit that any leader needs to develop.

It’s the same with making decisions quickly. While you don’t want to make careless decisions, the world of business moves fast and is often action-oriented. Train yourself to hone in those introverted strengths of reflection and analyzation to make desirable decisions quickly. Useful tools like grid analysis can help you make those complex decisions in a snap.

7. Active Engagement

As an introvert, you see nothing wrong with spending hours working in your office alone. As a leader, this habit can seem standoffish and can affect employee morale. Take time to interact with your employees every day. Walk around the office, ask questions and talk to employees one-on-one. You don’t have to pretend to be an extrovert, but you do need to engage.

Introverts have a specific skillset that can set them apart as leaders. By tailoring their leadership style to their specific strengths, while improving their shortcomings, introverted leaders can find real success in their role.

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