Introverts are not often associated with being great leaders. Either given a hard time in the press for keeping a low profile or completely overlooked by the media, we don’t hear about many in leadership positions because they often shy away from blowing their own trumpets. 65% of executives view introversion as a barrier to leadership, according to a poll conducted by USA Today. However, the same study also revealed that around 40% of those in leadership positions are introverts.
Take Bill Gates as a prime example -a businessman who is undoubtedly a brilliant leader. Gates proves that introverts do have the potential, it’s just a case of unlocking it. This can be achieved quite easily with executive coaching.
Here are five key reasons why introverts make great leaders:
#1 Good listeners
Introverts have an innate ability to sit back, assess a situation and provide valuable contributions when they see fit. They don’t feel compelled to be heard and they won’t speak just for the sake of it. In a world full of noise, this is actually pretty powerful, and introverts are better able to tap into the power of pure attention and its benefits.
Extrovert leaders are happy to do all the talking – in fact, they relish it, often at the expense of listening. Good leaders, on the other hand, allow their teams to express their ideas, knowing that giving them the freedom to do so sparks creativity and will ensure that the best outcomes are not overlooked. Introverts constantly learn and improve by sitting quiet and absorbing what other people have to contribute.
#2 Calculated decision makers
Known for their careful preparation, introverts never turn up to a meeting ill-prepared and adopt an overall far more measured approach as a result. By weighing up the pros and cons of a situation before making a decision, introverts tend to come up with more considered solutions. More open to hearing and considering information that they might not necessarily agree with, introverts are also known for their ability to find solutions that aren’t at first glance the obvious choice.
#3 A great balancing act
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. In fact, having a number of introverts working among a team of extroverts can make for a much calmer dynamic, particularly in fast-paced environments. When others become excited, stressed and lose focus, Introverts often keep their cool. Those with responsibility for teams would do well to ensure that they have the right balance between introverts and extroverts, maximising the potential of each can lead to transforming team performance.
#4 Working in solitude
Extroverts don’t particularly like working alone but, for the introvert, this plays to his or her strengths and they can actually achieve more, using the time for self-reflection, planning and creating. In all businesses, there comes a time when colleagues will be required to work alone and so this can give the introvert an advantage. While being able to work with others in a team is often cited as a number one requirement for somebody joining that team, the ability to work alone should never be overlooked.
#5 Giving colleagues more freedom to share their ideas
The well-meaning extrovert can sometimes overshadow employees when they get excited or carried away with an idea. This doesn’t mean extroverts are bad bosses, it’s just more likely that introverts will ask each and every colleague, including other introverts, to share their ideas, knowing the benefits they can bring to a team.
It’s a myth to say that introverts don’t make great leaders. To make our businesses work, we need introverts and extroverts and, with the right development and leadership coaching on both sides, the teams that work for these characters can only benefit from the experience.