Most introverts have no intention to lead. But if they are put in the role to lead, they can step up and be great leaders too. Successful leaders such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Barack Obama, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, J.K. Rowling, and Marissa Mayer are all introverts.
They show that great leaders don’t have to be outspoken or outgoing. They can be quiet and reserved too.
As an introvert, I used to not want to be in the spotlight and used to think that I couldn’t lead others well. But after given opportunities to lead others at work and in college, I realized that I can be a great leader too. Just that I have to lead differently from my extroverted peers and use my quiet personality to my advantage.
Here are seven reasons why introverts can be great leaders too.
1. They listen more than they speak.
Great leaders listen. They listen to what their team and customers have to say. They find out the problems their team and customers are facing and create solutions to help them. Introverts can be great leaders because they listen more than they speak. They have the patience to listen and collect valuable information from other speakers while they are waiting for their turn to speak.
Introverts also love meaningful conversations. They are more likely to find out underlying problems and important feedback from their team and customers when they communicate with them.
2. They are great followers.
Great leaders are great followers too. They have empathy towards their followers and understand what their followers are going through. They know what is important to their followers and understand how to serve them. Introverts can be great leaders because they don’t mind taking a step back and let their followers lead. Instead of telling their followers what to do and controlling what they do, they let their followers suggest ideas and engage in the decision-making process. This is crucial because someone working at the ground level may have more detailed knowledge than someone looking from the top level at the big picture.
Plus, most introverts have a lot of experience following. They know what makes a good leader or not. When it is their time to lead, they know what to do and what not to do to be effective leaders.
3. They influence people through action.
Great leaders are good at influencing and persuading others. To get support, they have to sell their vision and make others believe their vision is possible. Some introverts think that they can’t be great leaders because they aren’t good at garnering support and persuading others with words. The truth is introverts don’t have to persuade others with words. They can influence others through their action.
Introverts may not talk much but when they do talk, their words count. Introverts don’t think out loud. They think carefully before they speak. When they say they want to do something, they have already thought it through and are committed to taking action. Being consistent in their words and action helps them gain respect and trust from their peers and supporters. Therefore, they are more likely to have influence over other people.
4. They make time to think.
Great leaders make good decisions and delegate well. They think long-term and outline a clear path for their people to follow.
Introverts can be great leaders because they make time to think. They are mostly independent and not afraid of solitude. Being alone gives introverts a lot of time to reflect deeply, formulate plans and generate creative ideas. They provide clear, strategic direction for their followers and delegate work according to their strengths.
5. They make followers feel safe.
Great leaders make their followers feel safe and secure. They remove any doubts their followers have and align everyone to a shared purpose. Followers believe and trust their vision.
Introverts can be great leaders because their plans are well thought of. They are well prepared and they process information well. They go deep to the core of the issue and look at different angles to a problem. Followers are most likely to feel safe acting accordingly to their plans.
6. They are less reactive.
Great leaders exude confidence. They aren’t impulsive in taking action. They focus on their overall goals and people.
Introverts can be great leaders because they don’t response immediately. They reflect on what other people say before they react. They keep their cool during high-stress moments. So they are less likely to make impulsive and risky action that will harm their people or organization.
7. They are strong and resilient.
Great leaders have resilience. When challenges arise, they are able to bounce back quickly and resolve the crises.
Introverts can be great leaders because they are used to being misunderstood. Due to their quiet nature and their need for time alone, most introverts grew up being misunderstood as anti-social or don’t like people. Being misunderstood from a young age helps them develop resilience. So they are not easily discouraged or swayed by naysayers. And they are able to handle challenging situations with persistence.
A Note to All Introverts Who Doubt They Can Be Great Leaders
Be yourself. Be proud of your personality. Being introverted is one of the best gifts you can have. Use it well and be the great leader you can become!
Featured photo credit: Bill Gates / Thomas Hawk via flickr.com