People management: why introverts make great leaders

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Introverts have the potential to be great leaders but in order to bring out the best in them organisations need to provide the right executive coaching.

The term ‘introvert’ is rarely associated with great leadership. Introverts tend to shy away from blowing their own trumpets and as a result, you don’t hear about many in leadership positions.

In fact, a poll conducted by Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of executives view introversion as a barrier to being a great leader.

However, you don’t necessarily need to be an extrovert to be successful. Just look at Bill Gates, for example - an introvert who is undoubtedly a brilliant leader.

Clearly, introverts do have the potential to be first class leaders. The challenge is unlocking this potential, and this is something that can be done through executive coaching.

Here are just five of the many leadership qualities that introverts possess.

1. They’re great at listening

Confidence is often mistaken for effectiveness, which is one reason extroverts can find it easier to rise to the top of an organisation.

However, in a world full of noise, introverts have an innate ability to sit back, assess a situation and provide valuable contributions only when they see fit, and not just to be seen to be speaking.

I’ve sat in lots of rooms where the same couple of people are demanding all of the conversation and overpowering the entire room, which can be detrimental to businesses.

Both introverts and extroverts are needed to make businesses work and, with the right development and leadership coaching on both sides, businesses can have the best of both worlds.

Extrovert leaders can often be guilty of doing all of the talking and less listening, whereas good leaders allow their teams and individuals to express their ideas, knowing that giving them the freedom to do so sparks creativity.

This helps to ensure that the best outcomes are not overlooked. Not only this, but everyone knows that listening equals learning, so by sitting quietly and absorbing what other people are saying, introverts are constantly learning and improving.

2. They often make more calculated decisions

The ability to make the right decisions is a key skill that all great leaders must possess. By weighing up the pros and cons of a situation before making a decision, introverts tend to come up with more considered solutions.

Introverts are known for their strategic thinking and clever preparation; they don’t make rash decisions or rely on coming up with on-the-spot suggestions.

Introverts are also able to find solutions that aren’t at first glance apparent and are also more open to hearing a variety of ideas and considering information that they might not necessarily agree with.

3. They’re a great balancing act in teams of extroverts

Finding the right team dynamic is a challenge that many organisations face, especially those in fast-paced industries. One way to create a calmer working environment is to ensure you have a mix of both introverts and extroverts.

While having a team of excitable extroverts keeps the office mood high, introverts can balance this by creating a peaceful, calming atmosphere where colleagues feel safe and accepted to be creative and share their ideas.

Introverts are often known for keeping their cool in stressful situations and also bring focus back to situations when other people have become excited, stressed or have lost focus.

Both introverts and extroverts are needed to make businesses work and, with the right development and leadership coaching on both sides, businesses can have the best of both worlds.

4. They don’t mind working in solitude

While it’s important for all leaders to be able to work collaboratively with others, there comes a time in all businesses when colleagues will be required to work alone.

For extroverts and people who don’t like spending time alone this can be a daunting prospect. Introverts have the ability to work alone and can often get more done as a result.

In order to get the best out of your introvert leaders, it’s important to embrace their unique brand of charisma and their strengths as listeners and strategic thinkers.

Being able to work with others in a team is often cited as a number one requirement when recruiting team members, but the ability to work alone should never be overlooked. Introverts often enjoy working in solitude as it allows them more time to focus on ideas, planning and self-reflection.

5. They give colleagues more freedom to share ideas

Introverts tend to provide more opportunities for deep discussion than extroverts who can dominate discussions without taking the time to listen and take on board different ideas.

Simply by speaking less, introverts allow more opportunity for others to share their suggestions. While extroverts are well meaning, they can sometimes overshadow employees when they get excited or carried away with an idea.

Introverts are more likely to allow each and every colleague to share their ideas, knowing the benefits they can bring to a team. This approach helps to ensure each colleague feels as though they are a respected member of the team and that their input is valued.

How to grow and develop your introvert leaders

The leadership qualities of introverts highlighted above help to quash the misconception that introversion is a barrier to leadership and that only extroverts make great leaders.

In order to get the best out of your introvert leaders, it’s important to embrace their unique brand of charisma and their strengths as listeners and strategic thinkers.

By focusing on the leadership qualities that they possess and providing the correct executive coaching to harness their skills, you can help turn your introvert leaders into the next Bill Gates.

Want to learn more on this topic? Read Competency frameworks: how can we beat cultural bias towards extraversion?

About Leo Aspden

Executive Leadership Coach, Leo Aspden

http://www.leoaspden.co.uk/

An award winning high growth business consultant, executive/leadership coach and chartered marketing professional, with 30 years experience of working with UK and international businesses, from start up operations to world recognised brands. 

Leo has Extensive experience of working with business leaders, executives and managers in coaching, leadership development and management, business strategy and marketing. 

 

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