[November 9, 2019] It’s time to debunk the stereotype that introverts aren’t natural leaders. A collaborative study by researchers from Harvard, Stanford, and the University of Chicago has shown that introverted CEOs are even more effective than extroverted ones. Ready for that big chair? Here is how to harness your introversion and help your team reach its fullest potential!
- Leverage your strengths
Introverts are naturally good listeners and observers – use those skills. Allow yourself to lead from behind, do strategic and critical thinking and encourage leadership within your team. This style allows better sustainability of your company.
- Own the way people perceive you
People tend to interpret introspection and lack of verbalization as shyness. To prevent such unwanted assumptions, set the scene for how people perceive you. Inform your team about your style and preferences.
- Build one-on-one relationships
Introverts first connect and then inspire people to follow, gaining respect through trust and meaningful connections with others. Regular one-on-one meetings instead of big gatherings are most impact without putting you under unnecessary stress.
- Write your ideas down
Introverts benefit from having a visual representation of their ideas and from considering them one by one. Many scholars note that several hours devoted to writing a research paper help them come to unexpected conclusions more than days spent experimenting.
- Come to big meetings prepared
To prevent cases of stage fright on big important meetings, go with carefully prepared agenda of the key points you will need to address. This way you won’t be detracted by more active participants.
- Anonymize brainstorming
Active team members often eclipse ideas of their introspective colleagues, who aren’t that good at lobbying for themselves. Instead of having face-to-face brainstorming meetings, ask your team to come up with some ideas “offline” and submit them to you. Later, anonymize all ideas for impartial discussion. This will encourage other introverts on your team to participate and will nurture creativity in your team.
- Ask questions
Ask open-ended questions to learn more about the ideas and opinions of your colleagues. This way you let others do the talking and take advantage of your great listening skills. Moreover, it’s a great way to connect with them.
- Set boundaries
Instead of limiting the number of people you interact with, try limiting the number of hours you spend daily in face-to-face meetings. Don’t be afraid to tell when you are out of bounds – for example, no phone calls after 7pm. Keep the right to close your door for half an hour if you need to concentrate without interruptions. Mark this in the office calendar, if necessary.
- Establish acceptable communication lines
However, it is important to keep your preferred communication lines open and make sure your team can reach you when they need you. If you vetoed phone calls – green-light instant messages. Just as you have a set time when you need to be alone, set time when you are available for your team.
- Know when to leave your comfort zone
You will have to be assertive when the situation calls for it. Venturing outside the comfort zone is what leaders often have to do, extroverted and introverted alike. Know your shortcomings and develop strategies to bridge these gaps.