Leadership as an Introvert
Leadership as an introvert looks different.
Let me clear the air: I’m an introvert. I like people, but they drain me. I’m good with names but not great. I lead well in-the-moment, but remembering personal details about our team members when I don’t spend much time with them is hard for me.
I sometimes wish I could interact with four, maybe five people at the most, and still be considered an effective leader. But I can’t. If you’re an introvert like me, I’ve got good news: you can still be a good leader even if you are not a “rah-rah” extrovert.
Leadership as an Introvert Best Practice #1: Don’t be awkward about it
If you can’t remember that team member’s name, don’t beat around the bush. Ask them. If you haven’t seen them in several weeks, and have never interacted with them deeply, don’t expect yourself to remember them. But also don’t make them – and you – uncomfortable by pretending a familiarity that doesn’t exist. Just ask.
Leadership as an Introvert Best Practice #2: Recognize your strength
At times, extroverts aren’t as reflective as introverts. While the life of the party, they may not be as deep as a leader needs to be. If you are an introverted leader, part of what makes you effective is you are “turned inward” at times. You probably think more deeply, anticipate more fully and prepare more diligently than your extroverted fellow leaders.
Leadership as an Introvert Best Practice #3: Take notes
In a recent blog post, Seth Godin reminded all of us that there are always three meetings: the meeting before the meeting, the meeting, and the meeting after the meeting. The meeting before the meeting is a meeting with yourself to ensure you are prepared for the meeting. And the meeting after the meeting? It is another meeting with yourself where you write down any appropriate notes. I use Pipedrive as a simple CRM to take notes. This helps me to remember key details about the people around me.
Leadership as an Introvert Best Practice #4: Get some extroverts on your team
Good leaders hire people in their own image. Great leaders go out of their way to hire people who are different than them. Different gender, different training, different age, different culture, and different introversion/extroversion perspective. If you’re an introvert, realize the strength of having one or more naturally outgoing people around you. They will protect you from your blindspots and also help you grow.
In an age when the celebrity leader is honored, when people who crave the limelight are viewed as aspirational role models, the power of an introverted leader can be missed. Don’t let that happen to you. If you’re an introverted leader, recognize the strength you bring to the table and lead from who you are.