When you think of a leader, what adjectives come to mind? Outspoken? Bold? Go-getter? Authoritative? Confident? These words are probably not ones that most would associate with an introvert. People tend to think of leaders as these big, extroverted personalities, when in reality leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and some of the best leaders identify as introverts. In fact, according to a poll from USA Today, 65% of executives believe introversion to be a barrier to leadership; however, the same poll revealed that 40% of executives are introverts. Nearly half. Plus, some of the most successful and influential thought leaders throughout history (Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Warren Buffet, Eleanor Roosevelt, and J.K. Rowling, to name a few) have been introverts.
The stereotype about introverts being so shy and remissive they can never make it as leaders is downright false. Another aspect of leadership, equally as important as charisma and communication, is coming up with great ideas and motivating a team of workers. Introverts have a different way of processing information, but they leverage their strengths and get the job done just the same. Here are some of the strengths that introverts call upon to perfect their leadership skills.
They are excellent listeners
The ability to listen, truly listen, is so often underestimated but is so vital for gaining new information and building a foundation of trust with employees. What one may call quiet is in reality an introvert’s way of internalizing what they hear and brainstorming the perfect response and plan of action. Their gears are always turning.
They are thoughtful and prudent
Some degree of risk is inevitable for entrepreneurs starting their own businesses, but a successful leader needs to be know how to think through every scenario and be prudent in how they manage capital and resources. Starting a business is, in itself, a huge risk, but a leader should never be rash in their decision-making. The introvert’s philosophy of think first, talk later is a wise one for a leader to adapt because they learn from listening to what others have to say and end up making more informed decisions.
They know how to remain calm
Introverts tend to better than extroverts at managing uncertainty, and uncertainty is a major element of running a business. According to Entrepreneur, “finding certainty where uncertainty typically prevails is a huge plus for any entrepreneur.” Their ability to work with less information helps them to come up with creative solutions to problems. The introvert’s calm, almost-stoic nature, is highly valued in stressful situations. By exuding calm, they transfer that mood to those around them. Additionally, because public speaking and social events may be more stressful for them, introverts take the time to prepare for every meeting and event rather than thinking on the spot.
They work well on their own
Most job descriptions emphasize that they want a candidate who works well both alone and as part of a team. While extroverts possess great people skills that could make them easy to work with, they may have trouble concentrating and being productive on their own. Introverts, in contrast, thrive in situations that allow them to work alone. Time alone fuels their ideas and creativity, and gives them the momentum they need to turn their ideas into actions.
They are self-aware
Introverts generally do not have very big egos, and this humble personality type is refreshing in executives. An effective leader needs to be able to take a step back and acknowledge their faults and mistakes so that they can learn from them. Introverts know themselves and what they’re capable of, and as a result they are open to hearing and testing out new ideas.