Hi, my name is Heather, and I am an introvert. It’s true. In large gatherings, I am the one off to the side or purposely surrounding myself with those who are in my comfort zone. Not the picture that pops into your head when you think of the personality of a strong, confident leader? That one-dimensional trope, though, is outdated and incomplete. Don’t write introverts off just yet when building out your leadership team. When we think of a strong leader, we tend to picture that outgoing personality, the person who can instantly command a room. We think of those leaders who can talk to anyone and everyone and win them over with that charismatic smile and personality, right? I truly think introverts get overlooked in their leadership potential way too often. Extroverts: take comfort, I am not proposing that introverts make better leaders, I am simply saying that there is value in diversity within leadership teams.
Finding a good core leadership team for your firm is crucial to your growth and success. It’s also no easy feat. Identifying the right individuals, developing them, and putting them into positions that embrace their strengths, is a seriously intentional process. So, it would be a shame if you had team members with real leadership potential sitting untapped in your firm. Let’s lose the stereotypes. There is no standard for a great leader, and diverse personalities and skill sets will only strengthen your leadership team and your firm.
The skills a leader needs
So, what makes an introvert a successful leader? Obviously, each individual is different… I am not proposing that all introverts possess the same strengths and weaknesses, but there are some common traits that introverts tend to possess that can translate into excellent leadership skills. These are the types of skills that can create connections, broaden perspectives, and encourage innovation. That means they are skills your firm likely needs and can’t afford to ignore.
We are all individuals. All introverts do not necessarily exhibit all of these traits. Too, you may find these same qualities within many extroverts. However, what I challenge us all to do is to let go of that stereotypical image of the bold, outspoken leader. If you don’t, you will overlook individuals within your team that may have real leadership potential. We all need leadership development — so look to balance out your leadership team with diverse personalities. It will pay off for you in the end.
Stay true to yourself
Fellow introverts, I have a challenge for you, as well. Have you ever found yourself trying to channel your inner extrovert in order to get ahead? In order to be seen, heard, and noticed as an effective leader? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? Perhaps it is because you don’t have an inner extrovert! Perhaps it is because you are who you are, and that’s okay! So, I challenge you to stop. Have confidence in your own leadership style. Not only are your own introverted qualities valuable, but studies have actually shown that when introverts attempt to act more extroverted than they naturally are, it causes them to underperform. The time and effort you are putting into being unnaturally extroverted is a distraction and disruption to your natural performance abilities.
There is no one standard pattern for an excellent leader. Leaders come in all shapes and varieties. Embracing your own strengths and unique abilities, while seeking to further develop and improve your weaknesses is what will set you apart as a strong leader.
— Stephen Hawking