And more meetings.
Big meetings, small meetings, and that presentation at the professional conference looming in the future are enough to make any manager weary – let alone if you are an introvert who finds speaking in front of groups larger than two (and you are one of the two) to be energy draining. Most companies value and reward those who stand out in a crowd, speaking up loudly for their ideas while they “work the room” with their charisma. However, if you are naturally one whose best work is done alone, in the quiet space of a closed door office where you can think, it can be challenging to navigate the demands of an organization that is run by extroverts. And many organizations are run by extroverts. But the introverted leader plays a critical role in the success of any organization. It’s really a matter of playing to your strengths.
And what are those strengths?
In our experience we find introverted leaders to be the best listeners. You excel at one-on-one conversations. People leave meetings with you feeling heard. Even if they don’t agree with you, the experience of feeling heard can more often than not diffuse conflict before it arises. We see introverted leaders employ this listening skill to win over customers, when scores of extraverted leaders fail. The customer feels heard and appreciated and this translates into new business. If you are an introverted leader, your listening skills are your superpower.
Introverts like to take in information from a lot of sources, then think things through before making a decision. This information seeking cognitive style works exceptionally well for engaging teams. In fact, in a study published by Harvard Business School, researchers found that introverts can often be better leaders than extraverts. Professor Carmen Nobel writes, “ An introverted leader is more likely to listen to and process the ideas of an eager team.” The introverted thinking style supports participation and collaboration, and engages team by including everyone’s ideas.
Is innovation and creativity important to your organization? Then look no further than introverts to lead the way. Famous leaders such as Bill Gates, Mahatma Ghandi, and Eleanor Roosevelt as well as creative geniuses such as Picasso, Barbra Streisand, Charles Darwin, and our favorite – Dr. Seuss, are all introverts. Researchers found that spending time alone is a catalyst for innovation and they suggest that the most creative people in many fields are introverts.
The strengths that quiet leaders bring to the table can be critical to an organization’s success. Introverted leadership can be an organization’s stealth secret weapon to a more creative, productive and engaged organization.
**Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (2014). The Systems Model of Creativity: The Collected Works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Dordrecht: Springer, 2014. ISBN 978-94-017-9084-0