Effectiveness of Introverted Leaders

Introverts and Leadership. At face value, these appear to be two distinct characteristics that do not compliment each other. When one hears the word introvert, terms like shy or reserved come to mind, and while these may be overarching generalizations of the trait, introversion is generally not something we equate to leadership.

To be successful in today’s extroverted business culture, the thought that effective leaders have to be outgoing and outspoken isn’t necessarily true. Perhaps quite the opposite, in fact. In a recent report, nearly 40% of executives surveyed identified themselves as introverts, including some of the world’s most successful executives – names like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Charles Schwab. Below are five key characteristics that play to introverts’ favor in becoming a successful leader.

Think, then talk: 

Introverted leaders often let comments and ideas sink in before they react. They will consider other’s comments carefully and process the information before responding. Introverts listen to understand, instead of listening to respond – a desirable and effective trait in the boardroom.

And the awkward silence in meetings may be not so awkward after all; introverts often use the silence to their advantage, using this time to allow themselves and their team to process information to process and generate more ideas. Additionally, because of the more quiet nature of introverts, when they speak, people are more apt listen.

Depth over Breadth:

Introverts dive into the big issues and ideas and don’t like moving on until they have a suitable solution. An introvert values meaningful conversation over irrelevant chatter, and knows how ask the right questions to get the answers they need.

By seeking more meaningful conversation, diving deep into issues, and listening to understand, introverted leaders are likely to gain insightful information and truly understand the problem at hand and lead to the appropriate solution.

Calmness in Chaos:

Low-key. Calm. Reassuring. These are all characteristics of an introverted leader. In a stressful and chaotic situation, people are apt to seek out these people and follow their leadership. Maintaining cool and calm collectiveness is something that an introverted leader excels at. They are able to maintain their usual soft and slow speech regardless the pressure of the situation, and this invokes calm and trust in their team and followers. Thoughtfulness and preparation plays a crucial role in this characteristic as well, as they think out their actions and consequences before speaking.

Writing over Speaking: 

As previously mentioned introverted leaders highly value time to process information and equip themselves with a proper reaction and plan. Because of this, introverted leaders value, and are likely to prefer, writing over speaking. This allows them to process the information and best articulate their position and actions.

Solitude to Recharge, Re-focus

Likely the most well known fact about introverts is that they require quiet and solitude to recharge their batteries, and are energized by doing so. These breaks from people are crucial to their critical thinking, decision-making and creativity. Solitude allows them time to decompress, process, and re-focus with clarity for the next project.