When you think of an effective leader, what type of person initially comes to mind? Is it someone who’s especially outgoing, who gets energized by large groups of people, with a larger-than-life personality?
While these leaders can be very effective, it’s time to reframe our thinking. Introverts are also making waves in leadership positions in every industry.
First, let’s define what we mean by introvert and extrovert. According to Susan Cain, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, introversion vs. extroversion has to do with where you get your energy. Introverts usually feel more comfortable in quieter settings, while extroverts get energized by spending lots of time with other people.
Did you know introverts have some serious advantages over extroverts when it comes to leadership? Keep reading to learn more about the superpowers of an introverted leader.
1. Introverted leaders can be very passionate about an organization’s mission.
Susan Cain notes that it’s common to find introverted leaders who didn’t get there by the desire to be a leader, exactly. Instead, their passion for something led to them gaining expertise, building networks, and more, paving a truly authentic road to leadership.
2. Introverts are especially thoughtful decision makers.
Extroverts tend to gravitate towards risk-taking, which can be great for startups and other entrepreneurial ventures. But often in leadership, a more meticulous approach to weighing the pros and cons is much healthier for any organization in the long run. Introverts specialize in this style of thinking and decision-making.
3. Introverts have a realistic assessment of their own abilities.
It’s no secret that introverts spend more time inside their own minds than extroverts. This means they’ve often put in time thinking about how they might improve, acknowledging mistakes, noticing gaps in their own knowledge, and more.
This deep sense of humility is useful when assessing whether to bring in extra help on a project or take stock of others’ opinions before moving forward with big decisions.
4. Introverts listen deeply and internalize.
Introverts aren’t often the center of attention at a party or networking event. Instead, introverts tend to listen intently during deeper conversations, mull things over, and think before they respond. A great leader is sincerely interested in what others have to contribute.
5. Working alone is no problem.
It’s easy to forget how often leaders end up working in isolation, at least for parts of the workday. Introverts are more likely to enjoy this uninterrupted time to focus – most even report preferring to work on their own. Innovative ideas can often strike when you’re alone with your thoughts!
6. Introverted leaders can lead an organization to greater financial success.
It’s true that boards still often gravitate toward charismatic extroverts, but according to a new 10-year study published in the May/June issue of Harvard Business Review, introverts are actually more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors.
7. Introverted leaders are in great company.
Throughout history, introverted leaders have done nothing less than change the world. Here are just a few of the most successful introverts in history:
- Albert Einstein
- Rosa Parks
- Bill Gates
- Steven Spielberg
- Sir Isaac Newton
- Eleanor Roosevelt
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Larry Page
- Warren Buffett
- Steve Wozniak
- Barack Obama
If you consider yourself an introverted leader, rest assured that it can be a distinct advantage. It opens the door to new insights, thoughtful approaches, and deep connections with your team. Embrace your powerful leadership style!