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12 Ways Introverts Can Break Out of Their Comfort Zone and Become Strong Leaders

Here are a few ways introverts can continuously work on building strong leadership skills

Westend61/Getty Images
Westend61/Getty Images

You’ve mastered the skills of your trade because you know how to streamline your focus to do what you do best. But, as an introvert, there are inevitably other areas where you may find yourself dreading, such as handling more general leadership skills or lengthy social interactions.

Avoiding both by sitting behind the screen of your laptop or in your office space all day doesn’t help. While there may be a part of you that likes it that way, you do need to focus on what it takes to become a strong, effective leader while simultaneously pursuing your entrepreneurial goals, because you are, in fact, building a career that requires being valuable on multiple levels. So how do you approach the issue?

Below, 12 members of Young Entrepreneur Council offer their best tips on leadership skills introverts need to digest and make part of their repertoire. Here’s what members suggest:

1. Learn How to Communicate Clearly

It doesn’t matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert: If you can’t communicate how you feel, your expectations and goals, you will fail. Stop labeling yourself into a box. Talk to your team. Show them that you care about what they think and how they feel. Show your investors that. If you can clearly communicate and make informed decisions, you will become a good leader. – Ryan Rafols, Newchip

2. Video Yourself Practicing

For an introvert to overcome discomfort in a public setting, you must feel confident in the room. Before giving a talk, for example, you can film yourself speaking boldly to a pretend audience. It’s the understanding of the topic, and confidence in your knowledge, that will eliminate your fears. – Logan Lenz, PartsMarket

3. Try Exposure Therapy

Part of being an effective leader is being able to navigate high-stress situations with a cool and measured demeanor. Introverts are usually stressed out by situations in which they need to act more extroverted. Because of this, a great way to strengthen their ability to handle high-stress situations is to engage in these kinds of situations in a controlled manner. – Bryce Welker, Crush The LSAT

4. Work What You Have, Not What You Don’t

Leaders do NOT need to be extroverts. By drawing on your own personal strengths you can develop the skills that are also incredibly crucial to leadership, like active listening and empathy. Focusing on skills you know you have, versus thinking about ones you don’t, will help you maximize leadership potential. – Jen Brown, The Engaging Educator

5. Choose to Be Confident

Introverts are naturally good listeners and deep thinkers — two qualities that good leaders need. But confidence, another vital leadership trait, is the greatest hurdle for introverts. Thus, in everything you do, choose to be confident. You can be confident only if you actively want to. Soon, it’ll be ingrained to your mindset that you’ll automatically turn on your confidence without knowing it. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors

6. Use Your Preferred Communication Method

Most introverts prefer to deliver messages electronically than in person to keep social interactions at minimum. They also tend to articulate better in writing, as it gives them a chance to reflect and write rather than speak off the cuff. Letting them deliver a speech in their preferred method will likely result in more positive and constructive results. – Shu Saito, All Filters LLC

7. Join Toastmasters

Join a Toastmasters club! Leaders must be effective communicators, which can be a struggle for some introverts. By joining a Toastmasters, you can practice regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, and supporting others. – Jennifer Barnes, Pro Back Office, LLC

8. Don’t Use Being an Introvert as an Excuse

A lot of people just say “I am an introvert, so I cannot do that.” They use this as an easy excuse not to do something they don’t want to do. Instead of convincing yourself that you are not good at something, you should have the attitude that you can do anything. There are many books and articles that can help you improve these skills if you set your mind to it! – Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs

9. Lead by Example

While many of the characteristics held by extroverts are also often associated with leadership, introverts, too, can lead ably and effectively. The best leaders are those who lead by example: Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can build your leadership skills by excelling at what you do and serving as a role model others will want to follow. – Adam Mendler, Beverly Hills Chairs

10. Show Your Passion

Inspiring leaders are passionate about their companies and the projects they are working on. Inspire your team by talking about the big picture to help them visualize where the company is heading and show your excitement. Keep specifics for smaller meetings so you don’t get lost in the details when trying to inspire a large crowd. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

11. Learn From Others

Look at those around you who have had success where you are struggling. Watch how they operate and attempt to do the same. You are not the first to be in your situation, so find someone comparable and follow in their footsteps. – Ben Landis, Fanbase

12. Think Ahead to Anticipated Questions

Many introverts prefer to digest the topic before speaking, which can put them at a disadvantage in a fast-moving and rigorous debate. To develop the perception of being a decisive and thoughtful leader, do some prep work in advance. Think about your answers to the major anticipated topics and questions so you’re ready to weigh in when the issue comes up. – Brian Samson, True North

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