5 Ways Introverts Rock At Leadership

The world tends to praise the extrovert. The outgoing. The person stealing the show.

And the introvert gets relegated to second fiddle. And forgotten about.

It’s time we change our perception of the introvert.

Sure, they’re quiet and don’t do well in crowds. That doesn’t mean introverts don’t rock at leadership.

If you don’t know, introverts are typically more concerned with matters of the mind. They may avoid social situations and being around people can drain their energy. Often, they’ll come across as being self-centered or uncaring.

Hearing this, you may think introverts wouldn’t make a great leader. I think you’re wrong.

The traits of an introvert can serve a leader well.

Introverts are deep thinkers: Introverts tend to revert back into their mind to process all of the information they’ve consumed. They take the time to go over EVERYTHING.

To extroverts, it may seem like they’re wasting time and action needs to be taken. But to an introvert, they’re making the best use of their time and coming to the best conclusion.

Getting lost in thought helps the introvert to develop new ideas and to flesh out previous ideas. They take the time to run through the scenarios and possible outcomes of decisions. They’re careful in making the choice.

Introverts know how to get away: You’ll come across many leaders who are unwilling to break away from the office. They’re willing to work til their dying breaths.

With introverts, you’ll see them retreating frequently to recharge from the stress of dealing with others and making difficult decisions.

They actually know something many of us extroverts don’t: Rest is vital to our leadership.

Introverts form deeper relationships: When an introvert makes  a friend, they tend to form long-lasting friendships. The investment that goes into such a relationship is steep. And they want to make their important relationships work.

Extroverts tend to form many shallow relationships that never go beyond the surface. This is great for connecting but not meaningful relationships.

Decide to go a bit deeper in your relationships today. Discover the joy in getting to know others deeply.

Introverts don’t build their own egos: Normally, you won’t find the introvert leader clamoring for attention to stroke their own ego. They’re not keen on the spotlight. Instead, they will shift the focus of attention to that of the company and the accomplishments of the team they’re leading.

Introverts know it’s not about them. It’s about the team they’re leading.

Extroverts, be willing to step out of the spotlight. Give attention to those you’re leading.

Introverts tend to communicate great in one-on-one situations: Most introverts won’t be willing to stand up in front of a crowd of people and chatter away. But toss them in a one-on-one situation and you’ll typically see the introvert shine. They know how to communicate to others, just not in large crowds.

Being able to communicate well in one-on-one conversations helps you to get your message across clearly and succinctly to the ones who need to hear it.

Don’t fret if you’re an introvert and desire to be a leader. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, you’ll bring a couple of great traits to the table that introverts lack.

Even as an introvert, you can rock at leadership!

Question: What other traits of an introvert are helpful to a leader? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Think you’ve covered them all – and out of what you’ve said I see objectivity and often a better ability to listen. There’s introvert consciousness in all of us if we go inside and look for it! Great post!

    • Glad you think that Elizabeth! How are you helping introverts to realize their power?

      • Praise ’em, praise ’em, praise ’em, praise ’em 🙂

        • Great thing to do! Everyone can use praise.

      • Actually, I praise in private. And I guess I don’t do the ‘introvert’/’extrovert’ thing in the beginning so it’s always an individual thing.

  • I am an extrovert personally. What I have come to know is that its not about better or best, its about both / and. We need both types and we need them to work together. Introverts have a unique perspective on people and events and their insight can greatly help any kind of team or work group. Thanks Joseph for your insights!

    • Paul, you’ve hit something there. It’s about joining forces and using what each person offers to create the best and most effective team possible.

  • I was initially amazed when introverts on teams I’ve led started to quietly express an interest in leadership. Not by telling me– but by showing it! It can be difficult for more extroverted leaders to recognize interest shown by introverts, but it’s worth it! Introverted leaders build great value in your team.

    • You’ve got to love when people take action, even if they’re unable to vocalize it. That’s one of the strongest forms of leadership, I believe. How can you encourage them to step up more often?

  • Great post. Well thought out. I feel that people pay attention to what they have to say. This means that their ideas and opinions are listened to and considered more seriously. I bet E.F. Hutton was an introvert.

    • Charles, thanks man! Now if only introverts could speak up just a bit more so their great voices and ideas could be heard (-:

  • Introverts are often seen as dumb. They sit in the corner, or off to the side, and let everyone else discuss the issues and hash out the problems.

    Quote: “Better to keep your mouth closed and have everyone think you’re stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    In “Good to Great,” Jim Collins, despite his best efforts, found that almost every leader/CEO who took their company from “good” to “great” was an introvert.

    Fact: Buffett – Introvert. Jobs – Introvert. Gates – Introvert.

    Fact: I’m an introvert!

    Joe, your posts this past month have really been top notch! I’m glad to have read them and connected with you! I look forward to featuring our chat on the Empowered Podcast!

    • It’s sad that introverts are seen that way. They actually tend to be deeper thinkers and come to better conclusions. What’s one way you’re encouraging introverts?

      • Great question! I empower introverts by asking (and valuing) their opinions. I have to start small though; asking an introvert a question in a large group would most likely have a negative result.

        Give introverts time and space to work. Don’t bombard them with questions.

        Oh, if you’re going to instant message an introvert, and you’ve never talked to them before, don’t start with, “yo, you otp?” That really pisses me off.

        Err on the side of formality – advice for everyone!

        • Awesome Ellory. I especially like how you start small with them and not in a large group. I think you’re right most introverts would freak out at that point.

  • It takes all sorts of people to make this world work. We shouldn’t discredit anyone because they are different than us (whether that is introvert or extrovert). Everyone can learn from the other.

    • Exactly TC. Each person is a special part of the body. Whether we’re introverted or extroverted or an omnivert, we all play a special role.

  • Dan Forbes

    I’m going to disagree with you on this post. Respectfully, of course.

    I’ve seen a few articles and even a tweetchat recently on this topic of Extroverts VS Introverts. It seems that Introverts are being exalted and Extroverts are being thrown under the buss.

    Labels like Introverts or Extroverts may help us understand ourselves and those around us a bit more, but, in my opinion shouldn’t be used in broad, sweeping stereotypes.

    The danger is that we exalt one over the other and to me, that’s just wrong.

    Both Introverts and Extroverts can excel in the points you describe in your posts. And, both can fail. It’s not the personality type, it’s what you learn to do with it.

    • Dan, it’s great that we can disagree. There’s nothing wrong with differing viewpoints.

      With this post though, I wanted to encourage others, especially extroverts, not to look down on introverts (I know this from experience as I lean more towards the ambivert/extrovert). It’s easy for those that are different to see the other side as negative.

  • DS

    I guess I’ve not really viewed people as they’re an introvert / extrovert so they are more / less valuable. Similar to Type A and Type B personalities. I think a key here would be understanding your type, and how that can be perceived by others.

    • David, that’s true. We need to be able to recognize the differences in others and to value those differences.

  • Barbara Boser

    Wow I never considered some of those things. I feel I am a little bit of an introvert and extravert at times, but I definitely have some of those traits when in a leadership position.

    • Barbara, there’s also the possibility you may be an ambivert. That’s one who displays both extrovert and introvert qualities. So that’s normal (-: