Susan Cain’s TED talk and book Quiet: The Power of Introverts brought to light the amazing qualities of introverts.
I’m an extreme introvert on the measurable scale that psychologists or coaches would use, but that hasn’t held me back. Quite the opposite, in fact.
The secret is to embrace the secret powers you have, to use them to your advantage, and not be afraid to step up. So if you’re an introvert, that shouldn’t stop you from trying to become a boss — it should spur you on because introverts make for great leaders.
1. They are always super prepared
Many introverts don’t like to speak in public or to hold presentations, which is, of course, something leaders have to do on a regular basis, but I have no problem speaking in a meeting.
The key is preparation.
An introvert in management is going to be the most prepared person in any meeting. The only time I may feel out of my comfort zone in a meeting is where something that was not on the agenda and that I have not yet heard about is brought to the table.
Introverts won’t make a spur of the moment decision without any grounding. But it is easy to say ‘let me think about that and get back to you’ — a favourite phrase of mine.
2. They host efficient meetings
Introverts will appear to have less to say than extroverts, but what they do say is worth a lot. They will never waffle on just because they like to be the centre of attention.
This means that introvert leaders tend to hold very productive meetings, with straightforward agendas and clear outcomes.
3. They listen to their employees
Introverts are great listeners and are happy to let other people do the talking, and focus instead on soaking up all the information they are given.
This quality tends to make them compassionate leaders, because they truly understand the needs of their employees.
4. They encourage staff to excel
Introvert leaders give other people ample opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and share their ideas. And whereas an extrovert leader might feel threatened by employees who suggest smart ideas or better changes, an introvert is more likely — after thoroughly assessing it first, of course — to implement the suggestions and let the employee shine.
In that way, introvert leaders can bring out the best in their staff.
5. They are great at building long-term relationships
Extroverts are great at connecting with people instantly, whereas introverts are more about depth than breadth when it comes to relationships, which can be beneficial for a business long term.
Introvert leaders aim to create meaningful one-on-one relationships with their employees (which can result in lower staff turnover) and want to develop long-term, loyal partnerships with partnering businesses and suppliers.
6. They get stuff done
Introverts tend to be very focussed and can get their work done at high speed without being distracted. An introvert to me is someone who has a whole world of ideas running through their head, constantly refining and developing these. With the right skills and nurturing, they can bring this immense power of creativity and lateral thinking into a business and be very successful.
Introverts know how to zone out the workplace chatter and focus on the task at hand, whereas extroverts can get easily distracted and can’t say no to a good chinwag. So introvert leaders tend to be very hands-on when it comes to doing their jobs.
They may not always talk the talk, but they will always walk the walk.
7. They are very thorough
The clarity of thought, calmness and visionary nature of introverts gives them the qualities they need to be that rock at the top of an organisation.
They will not come in and make many changes immediately — they will slowly consider what needs doing in minute detail, and work with their team to turn things around.
Introverts are very persistent, and won’t give up on a problem until they have solved it, often using creativity to come up with innovative solutions.
However, any ideas or comments they share will have been thought through and reflected upon in detail, and many of their ideas will never be heard by anyone as they don’t pass the harsh due diligence inside their own heads.
8. They minimise conflicts
Introverts tend to contribute to less workplace drama, and having an introvert leader often means a smooth working environment. Introvert leaders are good at remaining calm when conflicts arise and try to minimise conflicts in the workplace.
They are humble and don’t like to brag about their own achievements, but are happy to have the spotlight shine on other members of the team.
This article was first published on August 12, 2016. It was updated on August 21, 2019, to reflect a change in the author’s employment.
You can help us (and help yourself)
Small and medium businesses and startups have never needed credible, independent journalism and information more than now.
That’s our job at SmartCompany: to keep you informed with the news, interviews and analysis you need to manage your way through this unprecedented crisis.
Now, there’s a way you can help us keep doing this: by becoming a SmartCompany supporter.
Even a small contribution will help us to keep doing the journalism that keeps Australia’s entrepreneurs informed.