4 Truths on Why Introverts Make Great Leaders
Imagine a successful leader.
I’m presuming a reserved unassuming introvert was not what you imagined.
This is because studies have proven that the majority of executives in leadership positions display extroverted personality traits. However, that does not mean that extroverts are better leaders than introverts. Introvert leaders are more likely to listen to what their teams have to say, and will be pro-active in setting their team up for success – they have an ability to empower others.
As a self-confessed introvert, the following unique skills have served me well as a leader:
1. Master of Focus
I have the ability to focus for long periods, especially when I’m passionate about what I’m creating. For example, when I’ve worked on strategies to deliver growth for businesses, I work with complete focus identifying the problem and developing the strategy, this excites me. Therefore, my enthusiasm is infectious, which allows me to inspire my team.
Focus in business is so important to success. Focus allows you to be effective in your work, to make progress, if you’re not concentrating on the actions required to reach your goals, and you’re distracted; you won’t be capable of giving clear direction to your team, and you won’t progress towards reaching those goals.
The key to gaining focus is eliminating distractions. Map out your strategies and work toward them, don’t try to do too many things at once though, you’ll start all of them but finish none. Don’t multi-task, it is exhausting jumping from one thing to another. Choose a task and work on it until it is done.
2. Master of Preparation.
When in those focus periods, it is an ideal opportunity for reflection, researching, analysing, interpreting, and envisioning. As an introvert, I tend to think before I speak and act. Introverts leverage our quiet nature, which can be misunderstood for being shy. However, when introverts do speak it is calmly, with clarity and deliberately – this approach has allowed me to “own” the moment and create a powerful presence.
The key to preparation in business is to know what you want to accomplish, why, and how you plan to do it. When presenting your vision, know the key message you’d like to communicate to your team or the audience you’re communicating with. Ensure you have stories or research to support your message, and clearly articulate how you plan to accomplish your goals. At the end of the day, you are the leader of your business; what you model your team will become. If you’re prepared, you’ll find that your team will follow suit.
3. Master of Listening
Introvert leaders are considered to be great listeners. Rather than seeking the limelight to talk about myself, as an introvert, I listen intently to what others are saying. Introverts have a genuine interest in others, and their ideas and learning from others. According to Susan Cain, the author of “Quiet; The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”, introverts love learning; they are primarily motivated to continue to seek to develop and grow. This resonates with me, as I continue to seek to improve, through reading, writing and attending events which focus on personal and professional development.
One of the most important skills of a good leader, is effective listening and learning from others. It’s the skill that a lot of business owners need to develop. Listening to both your team and your customers can have a huge positive impact on your business. When your team feel listened to it fuels confidence, which leads to greater engagement and ambition. An engaged workplace boosts productivity, growth and ultimately profitability.
Listening to your customers and their insights is gold, it allows you to comprehend how your business can remain relevant to the market you are serving. Truly listening to your customers can lead to ongoing growth within your business. Your staff and your customers are your business, without them your business does not exists, so listen up!
4. Master of Humility
I naturally fit with the servant leadership characteristic; my primary driver is to be of service to others, to set my team up for success and to empower my team to grow and develop. I believe as a leader it is my responsibility to mentor and develop individuals; I work to shine a light on the success of others; my purpose is the success of the team, the projects, and the organisations.
In her book, Susan Cain concludes that introverts are not interested in leadership for personal glory, and they steer clear of the cult of personality. Their emphasis is on creating something, not on themselves.
The key to humility in business, is to be open to other opinions, seek input from others, collaborate; people want to work for people who respect and value them. Genuinely care for your team and the environment in which they work, give them the tools to do their job. Empower your team to do their job, micro managing people kills moral, people will make mistakes, but we are all human beings, we are not perfect. Empowered individuals are more likely to admit to any mistakes and work hard to fix them. Humility does not come easily to everyone, so make time for self-reflection, be self-aware about how you can continue to improve to help your business and your team.
In leadership, and in business, results are ultimately what matter. There are many roads to get there, but what I’ve learned over 20 years in business is you can’t do it alone. You’re only as good as the team around you. Shining the limelight on your team rather than yourself helps the boat go faster, you’ll all be moving in the one direction, towards your common goal.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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