Can an introvert be an effective leader? – Leslie in Grants Pass, OR
Yes, of course introverts can be and are effective leaders. Personality types do not define capable leaders. Compelling leadership is born out of our beliefs, behaviors, and actions. There are four core components I believe are essential to be an effective leader: the ability to create a culture and environment which enables a team to thrive, to conventionalize the organization as a whole and in its parts, to actively seek alternate viewpoints and perspectives, and finally a robust power skills set. Introverts can be effective leaders by embracing these four ingredients.
Culture and Environment
An authentic leader leads by example. And although this may sound trite and well-worn, it still holds true. An effective leader lives and breathes the principles of integrity, honesty, and respect. They embrace positivity and demonstrate their values. By encouraging engagement within their team, peers, and influencers, they create an atmosphere of camaraderie, teamwork, and mutual support. This culture enables the team to thrive and do their best work.
Conventionalize the Organization
A strong leader seeks to understand all sectors and levels within the company, seeking visibility of the entire business landscape. At 30,000 feet, they are looking at the forest – or, put another way, the corporate strategic goals. On a mid-level, where they are skimming the treetops, an effective leader is on top of the initiatives for the month and the quarter. These initiatives are building towards meeting the strategic goals of the corporation.
When the leader is walking the forest floor, they are immersed in the day-to-day objectives and the tactics being utilized to achieve the monthly and quarterly initiatives. An effective leader knows how to manage within each of those lanes.
Seek Alternate Viewpoints
An effective leader is always asking, “is there a better way or another way?” Their constant endeavor is to look outside of their own paradigm and to question the prism of their team and department. They pursue clarity and objectiveness with an open-door policy to encourage new ideas. To rethink and reframe their approach, a good leader may use a rapid improvement process to analyze a situation or set of circumstances. Rather than being trapped within a set angle, they explore alternate means and potential outcomes.
A dynamic leader has a backpack stuffed with robust power skills. These include mitigating conflict, negotiation, capability for crucial conversations, and the ability to flex and adjust their style to work effectively with diverse personalities. The list of power skills is long, and these four are crucial within an exhaustive inventory. Strong leaders strive for continual professional development and growth.
Each of the above core components that comprise an effective leader apply to any and every personality archetype. While some personality archetypes may find it more natural, or easier in some areas, each of the above four elements can be learned and acquired. As an example, a creative individual may effortlessly seek alternate perspectives, yet need to learn better negotiation skills. To be an effective leader, you must step out of your comfort zone. Learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable is a mantle a good leader wears to expand horizons along their career journey.
Introverts can certainly be effective leaders. Introverts are usually associated with creativity, deep thinking, and a calm temperament. All of these are super powers. As an introvert, you already have an inquisitive mindset, so use this to break out and explore new paths. You can leverage and embrace your introvert traits while stretching to gain new expertise. Power skills to add to your backpack. Open yourself to the art of possibilities, including being an outstanding leader!
Read chapter 13, “Leadership Styles,” in our book, Practical Wisdoms @ Work.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.