“Ordinary people believe only in the possible. Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible” – Cherie Carter-Scott
When most people think of a leader, they think of someone who is an extrovert- outgoing, charismatic, socially interactive with other people, able to give a speech or presentation and someone who has confidence and can make great decisions. Until recently, it has been found that for several years many leaders who create and produce high performance levels have actually been introverted leaders. To name a few, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, former CEO Brenda Barnes of Sara Lee, movie magnate Steven Spielberg, and Former Sun Microsystems executive Jim Green. Most organizations did not see how valuable introverts are especially with our creativity and innovativeness.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe, American professional tennis player
Introverts are hardly a bunch of shy wallflowers – they are proven leaders who can be great leaders and public speakers. Introverts possess some crucial qualities that make them especially well-suited for powerful positions. Introverts are great at conversing with others because they listen and respond well.
The quiet revolution actually started years ago when some introverts decided they did not want to play follow the leader anymore to become the leader others follow. By turning Good Leaders into Great Leaders, introverts become great leaders because we think about what we can do differently in being creative and innovative with getting great results.
First, find out What is Your Leadership Style? The more an introvert climbs up the corporate ladder you need to learn more about developing your leadership and how you specifically lead. There are many who can lead quite well with ease as long as you know how to present themselves well enough to have this take place.
Play to Your Strengths: If you are an introverted leader, one of the best things you can do is recognize your strengths and know how to highlight them. These traits can give you a decided advantage when it comes to the performance of your team. As an introvert, you tend to be measured by your responses rather than react to them, therefore you are likely to be highly analytical and a good listener. Your natural aversion to risk makes you a steady leader. And when you do speak, you are frequently the voice of reason and thus, often the voice most listened to.
Surround Yourself with Complementary Team Members: You can capitalize on the introvert’s advantage by selecting team members who complement your quieter, more reserved approach to leadership. Know that your style of leadership will result in the most productive teams if you encourage your employees to be enterprising.
Create a Productive Environment: Remember that introverts need quiet spaces and alone time in order to do their best work. With a unique blend of characteristics, introverted leaders are just as capable to make great decisions, conduct and implement strategic plans, communicate well with others both on a one-to-one and speech making basis. Besides having a creative mindset, introverted leaders can be at ease in networking, as we know how to lead using the skills, talent and strengths we possess.
As an introvert, you need to show your accomplishments and how good-to-great you really are. Others will not take your word. They need to see you create and produce a few extraordinary breakthrough results in order to feel good about you. You need to open-up to people such as in leadership-by-walking and interact socially with others. Ask questions and show you are interested in who you employees are.
Leadership begins with you – and you will not succeed as a leader unless you have some sense of who you are. Your colleagues – potential followers – have a simple but basic need: they want to be led by a person not by a corporate party-line official. It is unlikely that you will be able to inspire, arouse, excite or motivate people unless you can show them who you are, what you stand for, and what you can and cannot do.
Maximize Your Leadership Potential as an Introvert: In order to maximize your leadership, you need to make yourself more visible to others. This includes your employees and to your company executives. Introverted New Yorker journalist Malcolm Gladwell observes that speaking on stage “has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”
Conduct yourself with leadership-by-walking as you spend about 30 minutes every day talking with employees to find out how things are going and finding out their thoughts, opinions and feelings on things in general. Crowded rooms and small talk are never comfortable for the introvert.
Putting Empowerment in Employee Hands: Research has shown that when an extroverted CEO leads extroverted/introverted employees, the employees are told what to do & how to do the work assigned. An introverted CEO stays behind the scenes after giving the task/assignment primarily to extroverted employees. The employees are told here’s the task/assignment, use your critical thinking skills, & if you have a problem/challenge, talk with other co-workers. The introverted CEO always gives credit/recognition to their employees, & they give them some leeway, where most extroverted leaders do not. As a result, the CEO’s of introverted organizations have higher productivity than those of extroverted CEO’s. Since introverts think a lot more than extroverts, introverted leaders are a lot more creative and innovative. With this in mind, introverted leaders empower their employees to use their critical thinking skills, prefer employees to work using an “entrepreneurial” mind-set, and discuss barriers, obstacles and challenges with their co-workers, and want to listen to what their employees have to say regarding the work they are assigned.
Say Goodbye to Your Comfort Zone!: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To be a leader, because of all the things you have to do and the unexpected challenges that occur, you will need to act on those things to move your company forward. To be extraordinary, you need to get out of your every day routine and accept that you are going to do things different than you have done before.
Listening Skills: Often times, leaders do a lot of talking and do not want to listen to the thoughts, ideas, or opinions of others. Introverts prefer listening instead of talking. Listening to the ideas of others helps you make the decisions you need to make.
Moving Beyond Expectation: There are challenges in both leadership and in being introverted. You need to step out of your comfort zone from time to time and challenge yourself to experience new and different things that relate to both your introversion and that of being a leader. Leadership for introverts can sometimes take a lot of effort. Leaders can’t lead without dealing with people in a multitude of settings. If I am not willing to compensate, you should not be a leader.
“If you want to lead an extraordinary life, find out what the ordinary do–and don’t do it.” -Tommy Newberry