7 Leadership Tips for Introverted People
Being a leader and an introvert may sound impossible. After all, leaders have to be gregarious, outgoing, outspoken and inspirational to others. How can anyone do these things if all they want is to be alone to think and reflect.
It’s true. Introverts do spend more time thinking than most others. And when they do this, others think of them as cold or unfeeling or, worse, as having some type of “superiority complex.” And when they are placed in leadership positions, others wonder how that will ever “work.”
You may be wondering how that will ever “work” too, if you are that introvert. When engaged in resume writing to find your job, you probably did not put “introvert” down as one of your personal qualities. And now here you are, expected to be a leader.
But you know some things about yourself that others don’t. You know that you genuinely enjoy people, but in small doses – both in numbers and in time. As an introvert, you become “depleted” more rapidly than others and have to “refuel” yourself by getting back to a private place where you can be alone with your thoughts, even though those thoughts may be related to work. So, you close your office door to re-group. And others label you unfriendly or “stuck-up.”
You Can Be a Successful Leader
The operative word here is “compensation” (along with a good dose of honesty). You do have to develop ways to compensate for your need to be quite and alone. Here are 7 tips that will help.
- Be Honest with Your Team: There is nothing wrong with telling your team members that you are an introvert and explaining your need to retreat and reflect. When you are up front about it, they will understand your behaviors and not judge you negatively. Then you can say, “Give me a little while to think about this,” and it won’t b mis-interpreted.
- Use LBWA: This means “Leadership by Walking Around,” and is considered to be quite effective in establishing relationships with your team. If you spend some time one-on-one with each team member as you walk around, you will not feel stressed by numbers. And those individuals will come to believe that you do have interest in them and their work.
- Keep Meetings Short: It is better to have shorter meetings more often than to have long ones that drain you. Prepare a short agenda and stick to it. Your team members will probably appreciate that anyway.
- Get an Extrovert Back-up: If you have to attend a large gathering that is work-related, you can’t avoid it, obviously. But if you have an extroverted buddy by your side, s/he can help carry conversations and you can just smile and nod your head.
- Housekeeping Items by Email: There are lots of minor items that you may need to handle with your team – new procedures from top-level executives, new reporting deadlines, etc. You don’t have to spend meeting time on these. Emails will work, and your emails can be friendly and conversational in nature. And adding a joke at the end is a good way to further relationships.
- Use Facebook as a Relationship Builder: Have a Facebook account and keep your posts light and fun. Co-workers and team members are probably on Facebook too, and they will “feel” that they know you better.
- Build Recovery Time into Your Schedule: You can’t be a good leader if you are drained. Give yourself short periods of time during the day – very short – just to get quiet and alone. It does help. But set a limit on that “down time” so you don’t fall back into bad habits of pre-leadership days.
You can take the lead and be very successful. Know your limits, be honest with others, and use these compensation techniques.