When you think of the qualities of a good leader, what comes to mind? Someone charming and charismatic, one who delivers passionate speeches at company meetings and can always command an audience? While we might associate these qualities with an extrovert, that doesn’t mean that this is the only way to lead.
Introverts and leadership might seem like an unlikely pairing at first, considering how much emphasis we put on typically “extroverted” traits such as friendliness, enthusiasm, socializing, and positivity. But being introverted isn’t the same as being anti-social, and introverts can possess all of those good leadership qualities and more.
An introvert is defined simply as someone who gets energy from their alone time rather than from being around others. Introverts might seem shy or quiet and tend to feel drained after spending too much time around people. That doesn’t mean that introverts are unfriendly—they just need their solitude in order to recharge from time to time.
As business owners, there’s a tendency to focus our energy on training those who best match our standard definition of leadership, but it’s a mistake to overlook the introverts. An introverted leadership style might look different than the stereotypical idea of leadership but is effective nonetheless.
Here are four reasons why introverts make good leaders after all.
1. Introverts do well on their own.
One of the benefits of needing a lot of alone time is that introverts are great at self-directed work. They don’t need anyone else around to get things done; they’re comfortable and productive working on their own.
Extroverts thrive in social situations, which can lead to less work getting done on the whole due to chatting and other distractions. Introverts make good leaders because they give themselves plenty of time for focused solo work, allowing them to accomplish many of the tasks that would be harder for someone who can’t sit still.
2. Introverts have great people skills.
While not known for being social, introverts can be very insightful observers. Where an extrovert relishes being the center of attention, an introvert is much more likely to pay attention to the wants and needs of others.
A Harvard Business School study found that extroverted leaders tend to talk over their team, while introverts make good leaders because they are much more willing to listen to others and incorporate their ideas. This is a vital leadership quality that comes naturally to introverts, while extroverts will have to work harder at stepping out of the spotlight.
3. Introverts are good judges of character.
Introverts tend to have much smaller social circles than extroverts. They choose their inner circle carefully and are strategic with their trust. Because of this, introverts are practiced in the art of reading people. Their own introspection allows them to recognize positive character traits in others and to trust them accordingly.
4. Introverts are great problem-solvers.
Extroverts are more likely to make snap decisions than introverts, who like having time to think over a problem before deciding on a solution. As mentioned earlier, introverts are good listeners who are more patient when it comes to hearing every side of an issue than their extroverted friends.
With all of their introspection, introverts have a rich inner life that can give them perspective and help them arrive at a creative conclusion. Introverts make good leaders because they’re more concerned about getting it right than going with the easiest answer.
Overall, any leader must work on their weak spots regardless of whether they’re an introvert or an extrovert. No personality type is more attuned to leadership than others; leadership takes work, and it’s a muscle that anyone can strengthen with dedication and practice. Introverts make good leaders for many reasons, but the best leaders are those who make an effort.
I hope that this article has challenged you to think differently about successful leadership styles. I am convinced that introverts make good leaders. I have over 30 years experience developing future leaders and if you need help with your team, please fill out my contact form and let’s talk on a video call soon.