Recently I read a very good book; Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain, which got me thinking about Introverted Leaders. I have long held the belief that we are all capable of being great leaders, whether we are introverted, extroverted, young or old, male or female etc. Authentic leadership comes down to knowing yourself well and using great leadership skills to share the vision and purpose of your business while engaging and empowering others to step up. Introverts are every bit as capable of achieving this as are extroverts. In fact, some of the most successful leaders out there, including bosses I have worked for over the years, would definitely be considered introverts. Some incredibly successful introvert leaders who come to mind would have to be Marissa Meyer, J. K. Rowling, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet just to name a few. For the longest time we have associated leadership with the extrovert. We are inclined to listen to outgoing, assertive, confident people, even when the content of what they’re saying isn’t so great. The extrovert can garner the attention and consideration of others when it comes to sharing their ideas. We assume that because they communicate easily they are worth listening to. It’s not always the case. When we consider the vast number of introverts among us, approximately 50 percent of people according to research, it’s quite ridiculous that we could believe our best leaders need to be extroverts and discount such a huge percentage of the population.

Another interesting misconception is that introverts are shy. Some may be, others may not. An introvert enjoys and even recharges by spending time alone while a shy person may not want to be alone, they may love being around people but are simply uncomfortable when interacting with others. There is a wide spectrum of personality behavioural styles within the extrovert / introvert types.

When you are managing or working with introverts it is worth noting that the real difference between introverts and extroverts is the amount of outside interaction they like to have to work well. The introvert would much rather be left to get on with the job at hand. They don’t enjoy regular meetings and often see them as quite superfluous, they’d much rather have one on one conversations when they are required.   The extrovert on the other hand will thrive with the constant interaction and conversation of others. Meetings and brain storming sessions are no problem, they enjoy voicing their ideas and opinions.

As leaders we need to acknowledge and embrace the introverts amongst us. Too often we expect them to get outside of their comfort zone and behave in a more extroverted manner. I’m sure there are times that they do. Maybe we need to get outside of our extroverted comfort zone and listen more rather than speaking and dominating the conversation.

In reality, whether your staff members are introverted or extroverted, it will not impact on what they bring to the table.  In fact, according to Jim Collins; author of Good to Great, introverts may well bring more to the table as they are not driven by ego, they are more focused on your business. Food for thought.

As a leader it comes down to not only displaying your own authenticity but accepting and empowering those who happen to be authentically different to you.