Leaders are expected to have extroverted qualities. No one will be shocked to read that, but does that mean that only extroverts are expected to lead? No it does not. Does it mean that introverts need to suck it up and go against their nature to start a business and manage a team? Nope. Does it mean that inclusion means changing our expectations of leaders? Yes it does. And finally, are you an introvert and a leader, reading this and feeling exhausted from forcing yourself to be more outspoken than you naturally are? Here are a few ways that you can make introversion work for you:
Embrace your introverted traits, recognizing that they bring valuable qualities to the table. Introverts often excel in observing, analysing, and making well-thought-out decisions. Understand that introversion is not a weakness but a unique perspective that can lead to successful leadership.
Communication doesn’t only mean talking. In fact, active listening is just as much a part of communication as active speaking. Encourage team members to share their thoughts and ideas, and genuinely listen to what they have to say. This not only fosters trust but also ensures that all voices are heard.
The “I’ll get back to you”
Often introverts feel a pressure to know what to say immediately. There is nothing wrong with pausing and pondering over something before responding. Any introvert reading this will be remembering all the times they wish they had just pressed pause.
Leadership today is all about inclusion. We are tired of hierarchical structures and want to embrace more democratic engagement and management styles. While that doesn’t mean we can’t have an individual leading an organisation, it does mean we can embrace delegation and empower our teams. Being a good leader means a certain level of self-acceptance. If you know what you struggle with, then you can let others in your organisation shine in those areas. Your company will only benefit from this. You don’t have to be perfect at everything to be a great leader.
Take Breaks for Recharge
Introverts often need time alone to recharge their energy. As a leader, no one is there to manage your workload but yourself. We need to normalise leaders acknowledging that they need time for R&R. We need to push back the culture of burnout-means-you-really-care. Space out your meetings, or opt for no-meetings days. If you can share your needs, others will feel more comfortable to share theirs.
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