INTROVERT LEADERS IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND
LEADERSHIP TRAITS: LISTENING
LEADERSHIP TRAITS: CALMING DEMEANOR
LEADERSHIP TRAITS: DEEP THINKING
LEADERSHIP TRAITS: MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS
LEADERSHIP TRAITS: EMPATHY
INTROVERT LEADERS IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND
Being quiet at the workplace is often associated with ineffectualness. Especially for introvert leaders, being out-gunned at the workplace for the alpha, gregarious charisma and leadership prowess of an extrovert is fairly common. Susan Cain’s bestseller, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, shows that introverts, although lacking in outward charisma, make better leaders. As a matter of fact, introverts have a real advantage over extroverts in their natural characteristic to be politically savvy, exerting quiet influence, challenging the status quo, and provoking new ideas and inspiring the rattlers. THINK: Barack Obama, a solitary figure who has extraordinary communicative abilities, or Warren Buffett, a “classic example of an introvert taking careful, well-calibrated risks," says Cain in her book. There are more icons – Hillary Clinton, who has recently stepped out of her presidential husband’s shadow, Mark Zuckerberg, the shy, introverted nerd with a less-charismatic personality, and Bill Gates, who is a bit of both – bookish and a shy wallflower, J.K. Rowling, Albert Einstein, and Google’s Larry Page.
Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power, says, people who fall on the introvert-spectrum, have an "internal power—the power to birth fully formed ideas, insights, and solutions. An introvert who sits back in a meeting, taking in the arguments, dreamily reflecting on the big picture, may be seen as not contributing—that is, until he works out the solution that all the contributors missed."
Recent publications and studies have set aside misconceptions about introverts and drawn light to the many talents they bring to the table. But, do introverts really make better leaders? Let’s find out.
Preparedness and listening are two best natural introvert talents. A study conducted by Francesca Gino, associate professor at Harvard Business School reveals that quiet bosses with proactive teams can be highly successful and that is because introverted leaders tend to carefully listen to what their followers have to say. Introverts have excellent receptive capacity. They have a natural receptive capacity to take into account various varying opinions. As Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, wrote: "The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said."
An introvert-led atmosphere is peaceful and calm and stimulates trust and safety for those around them. It’s because the low-key personality of the introvert leaders tends to be very reassuring, acting as salve to the chaotic and noisy circumstances during a crisis. This can radiate in others, especially to clients.
Introvert leaders tend to spend a lot of time introspecting and processing their thoughts. This common introvert trait can act as a competitive advantage, and help others trust in their leaders’ ability to pull-off a plan. While others around them may get distracted, introverts have their ability to work things out in their head and stay focused until the end of the mission. This is because introverts like to work things out in their head – observing, thinking, theorizing, researching, and planning.
As Cain says, introverts "prefer to connect one-on-one and around an issue they find important. So while an extrovert might attend an event and end up chatting with everyone, an introvert might attend an event, and have a few one-on-one conversations."
Introverts dread networking events. And, they might meet just one or two people at a conference, but they tend to make deeper, meaningful connections and use every networking opportunity as a way of building relationships.
True leadership qualities include genuine humility and empathy, both of which come naturally for introverted leaders. Such behavior cultivates the respect and loyalty of their team members. As billionaire Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson has said that “In business, companies that want to survive are smart enough to know that caring and cooperation are key.” In today’s nimble culture, leaders must let go of the typical ‘gregarious, alpha-male’ role, engage more with employees, and from a humble perspective.
Introverts are natural leaders, adept at solving crucial management and leadership challenges. If you are an introvert, don’t push yourself to small talk. Don’t try too hard to be more outwardly. Instead, use what you know about yourself as a competitive advantage to leading based on humility, observation, deep thinking, and listening.