When it comes to leadership, it is true that one needs to have an extrovert nature. As an extrovert, you will have an easy time reaching the top. But once there you will see that the traits associated with introverts will be the ones that prevent successful leaders from failure.
To prove my point, I can recall the name of some great leaders who are introvert like Steve Wozniak, Larry Page or Warren Buffet. To this, someone can point out that they are great leaders not because of their ability to rally the troops behind them, but because of their ability to be very good at what they do, be it programming or investing.
This is true to some extent, but once at the top, these skills don’t matter much more than what leadership skills do. Which means that the introvert leaders mentioned above survived not just because of their talent, but also because of their leadership skills. Which they developed by embracing their natural potentials like─their idiosyncrasy to have a balanced approach to life and their ability to draw energy from focusing on things for long durations.
They then augmented themselves up with a touch of extroversion. This helped them develop a leadership style that was strong yet distinctly flexible for the modern workplace.
This means every introvert leader can survive by following the footsteps of these great men and by embracing his natural capabilities. Let us see how:
Retrospection is not always done when you are alone. It can also be done when listening to someone. In this sense, introverts are perfect listeners and excellent information processors. They are not shy, but patient as they wait for the chance to have something relevant to say.
On the other hand, extroverts talk a lot and may seem to lack a purpose. Because of this some of them can be difficult to work with. When these people lead, they lose the respect of people under them resulting in a poorly integrated team.
As an introvert, you have an advantage because introverts are naturally aligned to think first and then speak. The key for them to take good decisions lies in the act of creating a strong purpose. They do it by considering all the aspects of the situation because of their ability to be a good listener.
But they need to materialize this purpose because for them to leave a mark their actions must speak louder than their words. Remember, that a good leader is not always the one who talks better but also the one who asks better questions and listens to the answers carefully.
Extrovert leaders can sometimes act like a hammer forcing people to produce better results. This makes them look at everyone as a nail. Whereas introvert leaders can think deeply and take a creative stand to handle their workforce.
For example, I remind you of an age-old parable from Aesop’s fables. Long ago, the sun and the wind decided to test their strength. To this, they found a traveler and made a bet on removing his cloak. The wind tried to blow as hard as possible, but this only led the traveler to hold his cloak tightly. Whereas the sun only shove of its brightness a little stronger, making the traveler remove his cloak because of the impending heat. The sun won.
The lesson was simple. Sometimes, it is easy to get the work done without using a direct force. In this introverts are better than extroverts. They can understand the situations at work because of their introspective skills and then work on these internal mechanisms to make a change.
Remember, that you can never use force to make your team listen to you. Extroverts need to understand this and introverts need to find indirect ways to get the work done from their team.
There are so many reasons for us to doubt ourselves. Maybe the tone of a colleague was not right or maybe the client had a dig on you. And then all sort of question strike the chord of disagreement within the self of our personality.
The power of inner faith acts as a panacea against all such corruptions of thought. Introverts are born with this pill, but not with the knowledge that they are born with it. And therefore they don’t know how to use it. They have to earn that part. An extrovert leader who lacks this may get easily influenced by such loose cannons of disagreements.
Often, introvert leaders won’t rely on others for affirmation of their ideas. This self-belief helps them stay focused on their ventures. On the other hand, extroverts will find themselves get infatuated by the feedback loop and external validation, in the form of accolades and media attention. This can divert them. Introverts, on the other hand, can be more balanced. They welcome such praises but never vantage themselves onto them.
As an introvert leader, you have an edge over extrovert leaders. An extrovert leader may find it hard to ponder over difficult questions like — How to channel target audience? How to reduce company expenses? Whereas an introvert will be very comfortable to think on his own.
Introverts rely on self-belief. Extroverts try to throw the spaghetti at the wall and hope it to stick. Introverts look for all the possible ways to make it stick in the least amount of trials.
How do they do it? By making solitude their strength. They are comfortable being alone and they don’t lack creativity when alone.
Finally, we also have to admit there are some introvert qualities which are not that good for leadership. Such as they eschew networking. Whereas to extroverts, networking comes naturally and they do know how to make the herd follow their lead.
But this is something they can learn. This requires time and hard work which are the strengths of an introvert personality. So this goes to all the introverts out there — Know how to take advantage of “being yourself” and the myth that introverts can’t take the lead will shatter on its own.
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Sandeep Kashyap is the Founder of ProofHub — a leading project management and collaboration software. A passionate leader, Sandeep is always on the lookout for innovative ideas about filling the communication gap between groups, teams and companies. He is also a featured writer on LinkedIn and a contributing author at YourStory. You can connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
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