Can an Introvert Be a Great Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

Can an Introvert Be a Great Leader?

Absolutely!

Connecting introversion and leadership isn’t obvious. A lot of people assume that an introvert cannot be good at communicating, influencing, managing and inspiring. A lot of people might be wrong.

An introvert, by definition, is someone who is reserved or shy, someone “whose attention and interests are directed toward one’s own thoughts and feelings.” (Source) So by the very definition, it’s not outlandish that people might think that introversion is an unlikely character trait for a successful leader.

Here are a few reasons, however, which show that being an introvert does not necessarily make leadership impossible:

Introverts are more careful

Whereas an extrovert might run headlong into a new project or a new idea, an introvert is more likely to give it careful consideration first. While an extrovert might spit out a comment without thinking of the consequences, an introvert will always consider their words more carefully. This gives the impression of not being enthusiastic or overly passionate when in fact, this kind of thoughtful deliberation is precisely what you want to see in a leader.

Speed in action, thought and word is often seen as competent and strong. There is value in taking time to make sure that the decisions being made are the right ones. The credibility that a good decision will build is worth a lot more to a leader than being ‘first’, in the long run.

Introverts have incredible listening skills

Whereas many, though not by all means all, extroverts are partial to the sound of their own voice, introverts are less likely to speak. Idle small talk is not their forte, so an introvert will spend more time listening to those around them, absorbing what is being said. Active listening skills are essential for an effective leader, and while someone who is not a good listener will likely spend their non-speaking time formulating their next statement, an introvert will actually be hearing the words being said to them.

Letting others do the talking can lead to a lot of insight, not just into issues and problems, but in the social dynamics of team members and the effectiveness of groups. A team that is led by someone who is always talking, who is always providing the ‘solutions’, will never think for themselves.

Introverts have no issue being the cheese that stands alone

Leaders are very often on their own since the proverbial buck stops with them. They are responsible, ultimately, for their team and the consequences of any actions taken by their team. But working and standing alone aren’t new concepts to any introvert, and in fact, many relish the solitude. They work best on their own, and while they are often fully capable of working on a team, their most creative and effective work is done alone.

The downtime an introvert requires in between bouts of managing issues and people is what provides them with the ability to be more reflective rather than reactive. It’s more of a slow-moving process of action, but this leads to less quick, knee-jerk decisions, which can sometimes have unintended but nonetheless trying consequences.

Introverts can be calm versus crazed

An introvert is far more likely to seem calm, even during a crisis. And that can be a good thing. Someone who is always in panic mode, seemingly crazed and ready to pounce, is not projecting stability and control, two things that people will look for in a leader. That control builds trust and trusting in a leader allows both team members and external partners to feel confident in the decisions being made and actions being taken.

Collaboration and depth are key for introverts

Whereas an extrovert is more likely to see their judgment and decisions as obvious and clear, not requiring the participation of others, an introvert will look to a more collaborative approach. While they are quite happy standing alone, as I said above, they would prefer people on their team be part of the decision, not just the receivers.

And while an extrovert might be keen to cover all the bases/goals/deliverables that they can, covering things on a more superficial level, an introvert will be more interested in delving in depth into issues. Depending on what it is that they are dealing with, each approach can have positive outcomes.

Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extrovert?

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What Makes a Great Leader? | BridgeBetween.com

What Makes a Great Leader?

Are leaders born or is leadership learned?

It’s a little bit of both, but it’s more complicated than an either/or statement so let’s look more closely at the aspects of personality that make a great leader. Why? Because one thing that IS true is that calling someone a leader/CEO/President doesn’t make them a leader.

What are some personality traits of a great leader?

Authenticity

Someone who is not authentic or honest is obvious. This can be observed in social media interactions every single day. The ‘influencers’ who are successful are the ones who are authentic. The ones that have a great big ‘for sale’ sign on their foreheads will have a moment in the spotlight but it’s not a lasting reality.

In order to motivate people to follow your lead, you need to appeal to them at a core level. This can’t happen if you appear constantly inauthentic. Empathy and awareness of others, of their needs, is an important part of authenticity. A leader who is only concerned with the bottom line and not what is going on with his team members will not be authentic or effective, in the long run.

Intelligence

To make tough and important decisions, which a leader is bound to have to do, they have to be intelligent in order to be able to do this with confidence and authority. Intelligence doesn’t just mean knowing the details of a project inside and out, though.

There are other forms of intelligence: street smarts, if you will. Understanding how emotions between team members and throughout a hierarchy work and play a part in success, for example. It’s not all about knowing the ins and outs of a project or company. It’s about understanding how people work and how to work most effectively with them.

Positivity

To inspire people to do the work that they need to do, a leader must project positivity. There are few who would follow someone who was perpetually negative, always assuming the worst of a situation or a person and generally unable to see the brighter side. Real optimism is part of authenticity but it is so vital to a team’s well-being that it stands apart as an important aspect of leadership qualities.

Focus

A leader who cannot keep his or her eye on the prize, all the while ensuring the team members are still on board, won’t be effective either. Ultimately, most leaders have a goal or several goals and a vision of how to get where they are going.

It’s not a question of moving forward headlong without paying attention to what’s happening in the process. It’s the ability to do both: focus on the goal and keep all the tasks in line, at the same time.

Part of focus comes from accountability. A good leader is accountable to his or her team and makes them accountable for their areas of responsibility. It’s by trusting others to get their tasks done and working with them, rather than micromanaging every aspect, and also coming through on the tasks that he or she is responsible for, that a leader gains respect.

Over to you …

While some of these traits might seem difficult to pinpoint in any one individual, over time, a good leader will show these while an ineffective leader will falter. Seeking power for the sake of it is not what makes a good leader. Seeking a solid path to a goal and taking others with them for the ride: that’s the mark of a good leader.

Do you agree? What qualities do you think are essential to being a successful leader?

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