Three Myths About Introverted Leaders

There is a quiet revolution going on in the management ranks.

Introverted leaders are finally getting the attention they deserve because of qualities like their ability to listen deeply and carefully, their calming presence amidst chaos or their capacity to think before acting.  Still, some myths about this personality type have deep roots in a work culture that venerates a charismatic, outgoing, and assertive leadership style.

It’s important to separate fact from fiction.  Personality is much more complex and interesting than the black and white extremes on a continuum.  Not all introverts avoid being around people and not all extraverts are super friendly.  There is much more to it, especially when we are talking about the strengths of different personality types and how this translates into effectively managing people.

Myth 1:  Introverts make terrible public speakers.

This is just flat out wrong.

We only need to look to the world of politics to see shining examples of introverted oratory brilliance. Eleanor Roosevelt, a famously introverted first lady averaged over 150 yearly public speaking engagements, with each speech more engaging than the next.  Abraham Lincoln was famously introverted and his Gettysburg Address is widely considered one of the top 10 speeches of all time.  An introvert’s ability to prepare and focus can give them a natural edge when it comes to public speaking. Also introverts tend to be sensitive to other people, and can tune into the audience to deliver an impactful speech.

Myth 2:  Introverts do not like being around people.

It is not about whether you like people or not, it is about energy.

One way to distinguish whether you fall on the introverted or the extroverted side of the continuum is to ask yourself “What gives me energy?”  If you frequently feel energized by social situations, networking opportunities, and large conferences then you are more likely extroverted.  If you frequently recharge by spending time alone, then you are more likely to be introverted.  This does not mean that introverts do not like people. In fact, introverts tend to have deep, satisfying and lasting friendships but with a small, select group.  Being an introvert simply means that social situations can be draining and that you need periods of time alone to recharge your battery.

Myth 3: Introverts have poor social skills.

This is a really harmful myth and the reality is that introverts just prefer deeper interactions rather than casual chit chat. If you are an introvert at a large gathering you may be the type to take someone aside to a quieter place to have a meaningful conversation.  Extroverts may be better at making small talk, but introverts are great listeners and are truly interested in what others have to say. In fact, introverts can make surprisingly good salespeople because they are adept at listening to the needs of the customer.

We believe in embracing who you truly are – whether you are more of an introvert or more of an extrovert – and bringing those strengths to the workplace.  We thrive when we own who we are and encourage others in our organization to do the same.


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