Introverts Can Make Great Leaders

Joe Weinlick
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What do former President Barack Obama, Marissa Meyer, Bill Gates and Hillary Clinton have in common? These influential figures all self-identify as introverts and leverage their applicable leadership qualities to succeed in business and politics. An introvert personality often imparts soft skills that are essential to great leadership, such as attentiveness, critical thinking and emotional intelligence. By embracing an introvert personality, you can hone core strengths that make you an effective manager.

Evaluate Your Personality

First off, don't let popular stereotypes about introvert personalities shape how you view your leadership potential. The public tends to label introverts as antisocial, aloof and shy, while assuming that anyone who is bold, friendly and charismatic must be an extrovert. In reality, introverts and extroverts have a range of overlapping character traits. An extrovert can be nervous and guarded, just like an introvert can be confident and outgoing.

The main difference between an extrovert and introvert personality is how you process common experiences. Introverts are energized by external activities, such as socializing, while introverts gain more energy from alone and time and self-reflection. To strengthen your leadership qualities, try to pinpoint character traits that make you succeed or struggle in work environments.

For example, it's common for introverts to be cautious and analytical when dealing with challenges. Your ability to stay calm while assessing a sensitive situation may help you make better choices, instead of reacting emotionally in the moment. You should also confront your weaknesses, so you can find ways to counter them. Do you hate networking at big business events? Try to create conditions where you can network in intimate settings and build stronger, one-on-one relationships.

Be Upfront with Your Team

Transparency can clear up the majority of team conflicts caused by miscommunication. Clashes at work usually happen when people interpret a situation differently and harbor negative feelings based on their assumptions about the other person's actions.

State your goals and intentions in a simple, encouraging manner. For example: "I think it's important for everyone on the team to have independence,so I don't like to hover. However, I'm happy to talk whenever you have questions. If you don't speak up, I might assume all is well and you don't need help." You gain respect and grow as a leader when you let your team know you value their skills and input, regardless of personal preferences.

Own Your Personal Brand

Find out what works for you, and emphasize your strengths to downplay your weaknesses. Many people with introvert personalities are natural observers who pay attention to how their peers think and behave. If you're highly perceptive, use this skill to understand what motivates your teammates and your superiors.

Are you passionate about mentoring? Do you empower your team to try new things? Are you good at inventing creative solutions? Great leaders are celebrated for their talents, and their faults quickly become irrelevant. The goal isn't to ignore your flaws, but to become synonymous with your best traits.

An introvert personality is only a drawback if you treat it that way. All workers have a unique blend of qualities that affect their performance in a specific job or environment. If you have the self-awareness to recognize your assets and shortcomings, you already have a competitive advantage as a leader.

Photo courtesy of srmpbi at


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  • Camille J.
    Camille J.

    Great article. No one really addresses this subject, there is plenty material for people who are considered 'gregarious'. cj/MI

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