Each person’s story can be beautiful and interesting. I recently was in a room of people who I found to all be fascinating and lovely. The reason? The more they shared about themselves, the more we understood each other and it only compounded my appreciation for them as individuals. Of course, I am a listener, an observer, a thinker.
Sharing can sometimes be challenging for introverts, particularly in leadership roles. For some, small talk may be painful. For others, sharing personal details with people who aren’t in your inner circle feels wrong. You may be an extrovert if you have no idea what I am referring to, and if you are in introvert, you might be wishing more people truly understood this about you. Even if you aren’t an introvert, someone on your team or in your family inevitably is, so read on.
In businesses or other organizations, there is often a premium placed on leaders who show courage, share ideas in meetings, and perhaps showcase great work. And often those leaders are successful. However, many introverted leaders display a quiet strength that can be overlooked when the loudest voices are the ones most heard. Introverts are often misunderstood, especially high-achieving introverts who are usually successful without even realizing their full potential.
A common misconception is that introverts are shy, or don’t like to talk to people. While that could be true, that is often not the case. For our purpose here, we will think more about introverts and extroverts by how gain or give energy. Extroverts tend to gain energy by being around other people, while introverts tend to gain energy by having quiet time alone. Conversely, an extrovert might dislike too much time in solitude, and an introvert might feel drained after a lot of group time or a big party.
As an introverted leader myself, I can share a glimpse into my thoughts, and perhaps these may be helpful in understanding the introvert in your life:
- Meetings: I love an agenda and information sent in advance of the meeting so I can take time to well prepare my thoughts. Being asked on the fly feels like I do not have sufficient time to reflect on my answers.
- Talking (or not): I am an observer, a listener, and a thinker. It serves me and my team well in many ways. I prefer to talk when I have something impactful to share, but don’t need to speak just to have spoken.
- Quality over quantity: In relationships, I prefer to have a few close people in my inner circle, rather than 30 best friends. The idea of sales “funnels” annoy me, because I prefer fewer, stronger relationships.
- Leading: I value one-on-one time with my team members and understand how to best tailor to each persons’ needs. I really listen and can have a gift for problem solving. Also, my team is my inner circle, so they get to know a lot more about me.
- Thinking: I am carefully calculated, with high standards, and have meticulously thought about the potential outcomes of all options. It’s like playing chess, when most of the world is playing checkers.
Don’t get me wrong, extroverts. We appreciate you, and we need you. But I implore leaders in organizations to listen for the quiet on their teams as to not overlook the quiet strength and value that introverts may bring.
For my fellow quiet leaders, find ways to share with others more about how you operate and what works for you with others. The more we can help others understand how we tick, the better we can work together.
About the author:
Katie Rasoul is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. Find out more by visiting www.teamawesomecoaching.com or sign up for our mailing list for awesomeness coming straight to your inbox. Follow Team Awesome on Facebook and Twitter.