How Do You Become a Leader When You’re an Introvert?
Leaders and introverts seem like they occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. After all, introverts like solitude, don’t like large groups, and aren’t (always) outwardly expressive. In contrast, leaders typically don’t get much solitude, are often surrounded by large groups of people, and are frequently required to express themselves outwardly.
So what then are you to do when you’re an introvert who needs to be a leader for more business or career success? We offer some suggestions on how you can be an effective introverted leader below:
Introversion has its own strengths
First, it’s important to understand that your introverted attributes are your strengths. For instance, your desire for quiet self-reflection makes you a deep thinker. Where an extrovert would share the first solution that comes to mind, you think things through before offering solutions (to work-related problems). Your quietness can make you an effective listener, which can be incredibly empowering to your colleagues or employees. High 5 Test covers other introverted strengths here.
Step outside of your comfort zone
Second, you can and should push yourself out of your comfort zone. You may hate public speaking, for example, but it’s a skill you’ll have to master to be an effective leader. It may help to see your introversion as a preference as opposed to a hard limit. Most people are neither fully introverted nor extroverted, says the University of Minnesota. Instead, they lie somewhere in the middle. If you lean in one direction, you can teach yourself to lean in the other when the need arises.
Look after your needs
Being an introvert who’s in the public eye can be incredibly draining. You’ll have to actively self-care and look after your needs. Some suggestions are taking plenty of breaks, going easy on yourself, exercising, meditating, listening to music, and taking it one day at a time. Learn how to set boundaries, such as turning your phone off after work and saying no to certain tasks.
Identify and develop your own leadership style
How do you define effective leadership? Is effective leadership being loud, being in charge, and directing people? Or is it motivating people, helping keep things together, and thereby generating results? Every culture in history has a different definition. Europeans, for instance, tend to have “flat” hierarchies where the leader is one of the people and not above them. It’s always a good idea to inform yourself of leadership styles and develop yourself accordingly.
Motivate yourself and your people by thinking big
Goal-setting is an important leadership skill every successful leader needs. You need worthy goals for you and your people to pursue. The best goals are the ambitious kind – they energize your business as well as set you up on a path to long-term success. When creating ambitious goals, contemplate what obstacles stand in your way, how to make your goals a reality, and how you’re planning to measure success. Give this a try.
Gain practical leadership experience
They say experience is the best teacher. The best way to learn how to be a leader is by throwing yourself in the deep end and finding leadership opportunities – asking for more responsibility at work, volunteering to take charge of a project, and asking for a promotion. Having your own business also forces you to become a responsible leader who’s, ultimately, responsible for the company’s success.
Get help from a coach
You don’t have to take the leadership journey alone. There are experienced mentors out there who can give you practical pointers, educate you, and help you troubleshoot problems. If you’re planning to launch or grow your own business, you can work with Deandra Jalisa for personalized guidance, coaching, and mentoring.
Being an introvert can make you an incredibly effective leader as long as you play to your strengths and are willing to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Some of the most successful leaders in the world – like Warren Buffet and Steve Wozniak – are introverts. Learning from their examples and following in their footsteps will help.
Image via Unsplash
Guest Post Credit: Courtney Rosenfeld of Gig Spark