Introverts are often portrayed as being quiet, reserved, and uninterested in leadership roles. However, this stereotype is far from the truth. They are much more than the quiet ones in the back of the room. Some of the world’s most influential people are introverts – Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Elon Musk, Abraham Lincoln, and Isaac Newton.

Toanne Zeelie

Toanne Zeelie

Consultant

Can introverts be good leaders

It’s safe to say that very few things are as mesmerising as the reaction that is visible when an introvert fully steps into their uniqueness – when they find their voice. They realise that the world around them is actually interested in hearing what they have to say. Society has been quite opinionated about the blueprint of a good leader. More often than not, the majority of opinions include extreme assertiveness and being outspoken as critical character traits of a good leader.

In saying so, we exclude a whole group of highly competent people from the leadership bubble. For a long while, we have continued to list their personality traits as negative or not fit for leadership, but, what if we identify the hidden gems instead? What if we accepted that, in fact, introverts can be great leaders?

Here are some of the key reasons why introverts can be great leaders:

Good listeners

Introverts tend to be great listeners, as they prefer to observe and gather information before speaking. This quality allows them to truly understand their team members, build strong relationships, and make informed decisions.

 

Strategic thinkers

Introverts often have a natural tendency to reflect and think deeply before making decisions. This allows them to develop a
clear and strategic vision for their team, and to make well-informed decisions that drive progress and success.

 

Empathy

Introverts tend to have a high degree of empathy, which is a critical leadership quality. They are able to understand the perspectives and experiences of others and to use this understanding to build strong and inclusive teams.

 

Comfortable with solitude

Introverts are comfortable with solitude and introspection, which allows them to reflect on their experiences, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and continually improve as leaders.

 

Focused and productive

Introverts are often highly focused and productive, which allows them to get things done efficiently and effectively. This
focus can be particularly valuable for organisations that require a high level of detail and accuracy.

 

Ability to lead by example

Introverts often lead by example, rather than relying on charisma to inspire their team. They embody the values and vision of their team and lead with integrity, hard work, and determination.

What you might not know about introverts:

Approximately one-third to half of the population is estimated to be introverted, while the other half to two-thirds are estimated to be extroverted. (Source: Susan Cain, author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking”)

Population

Studies have shown that introverts tend to have lower levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, which may contribute to their preference for quiet, low-stimulation environments. (Source: Scientific American)

Brain

Research has also suggested that introversion is partially hereditary, with genetic factors accounting for up to 50% of the variance in introverted traits. (Source: Psychology Today)

DNA

Contrary to popular stereotypes, introverts are not necessarily shy or socially anxious. While some introverts may struggle with social situations, many are comfortable in social settings and enjoy meaningful conversations with others. (Source: Susan Cain)

Communicate

It’s important to note that introversion and extroversion are not binary traits and that many individuals fall somewhere in between. Additionally, introversion does not necessarily mean shyness or lack of confidence, as many introverts are highly capable and confident leaders. In fact, a survey conducted by the staffing firm Randstad found that 70% of workers believe that introverts can be effective leaders.

In conclusion, introverts are everything but the quiet group in the room. They don’t just possess the attributes to be leaders but have the potential and the attributes to be excellent leaders, bringing a unique set of strengths to the table that can benefit their teams and organisations. By leveraging their natural tendencies and qualities, introverts can inspire and lead their teams to change the world as we know it.

Here are some resources for introverts looking to develop their leadership skills and tap into their natural strengths and qualities:

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