What we can learn from ‘introverted’ people

Most of us fall somewhere in between the introvert-extrovert spectrum but our concept of a great leader often looks to someone who exudes characteristics we often associate with ‘extroverts’ – including being charismatic, confident, and courageous. While these traits are indeed admirable and can be essential to motivate and drive your team, recent research surprisingly suggests ‘introverts’ tend to be better CEOs. In light of this research, we look at some often overlooked traits to expand your concept of great business leadership.

Taking the time to be introspective:
Leaders with extroverted traits tend to draw their energy from bouncing their ideas with others on the spot or moving quickly from topic-to-topic. In contrast, introverted leaders tend to think of their discussion points beforehand, often preferring to think deeply on one issue before moving onto another. As most of our behaviours are both introverted and extroverted (albeit to varying degrees), these traits are generally employed by all business leaders. However, ensure you don’t underestimate the value of taking the time to self-reflect on certain issues, looking inward for inspiration and judiciously asking in-depth questions to better understand your organisation.

Forming and maintaining deeper connections:
In the age of Linkedin and the increase of networking events, growing your professional network is often a focus of many business professionals. When taking into consideration the notion that humans can only maintain about 150 stable relationships at any given time (Dunbar’s Number), you can consider the value of holding more small-scale events or arranging more one-on-one engagements to better utilise your professional network.

Identifying and accommodating for ‘introverted’ behaviour in the workplace:
While it often ‘takes one to know one’, it doesn’t take much effort to recognise and accommodate introverted behaviour. An effective leader takes advice from all people in the room – not just the ones who happen to speak out. Some people prefer to express their thoughts one-on-one or in smaller gatherings. It also doesn’t hurt to give a little heads up on issues that are going to be addressed at a meeting. This is so all employees, including ‘introverts’, have the time to process their thinking and prepare talking points.

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