6 Positive Characteristics of Introverted Leaders
There is ample evidence that introverts can be highly effective in business leadership. Harvard Business Review reported on a study aimed at identifying the specific attributes that differentiate high-performing CEOs. Its findings challenge many widely held assumptions. For example, the analysis revealed that while boards often gravitate toward charismatic extroverts, introverted leaders are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their boards and investors.
In another Harvard Business Review article, it is shown that extroverted leaders tend to command the center of attention and take over discussions while introverts can be more effective. This is particularly true when “workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business. Such behavior can make extroverted leaders feel threatened. In contrast, introverted leaders tend to listen more carefully and show greater receptivity to suggestions, making them more effective leaders of vocal teams.”
In this blog, you will find six positive characteristics of introverted leaders that can benefit a business and reasons why introverts often do not feel confident enough to seek out leadership roles. Or do they?
Positive characteristics of introverted leaders that can benefit a business
David Kiger lists six positive attributes of introverted leaders that can benefit a business. You can find them below:
Positive characteristics of introverted leaders – 1: managing risk
Introverts can take a methodical approach to business scenarios. That is not to say that extroverts take wild swings at every opportunity but the two personality styles can utilize different tactics when it comes to risk. Kiger lists a number of interesting examples, which you can find in his article.
Solitude is not necessarily a word associated with CEOs, who often have intense workloads that send them bouncing from meeting to meeting with few moments to spare. However, introverts can thrive on taking time by themselves to contemplate issues and dream up ideas for business solutions.
Our culture discourages time alone but in this noisy world, we can get an edge if we carve out some time for solitude. Solitude provides introverted leaders with opportunities for self-reflection, thinking, theorizing, observing, planning, imagining, reading, researching, and writing.
Employee satisfaction can often be connected with the ability to be creative and work on projects that hold great interest. Introverted CEOs can foster this kind of environment. Employees in this type of environment have the flexibility to get things done without a lot of oversight or hype. This is something introverted leaders love as well.
Positive characteristics of introverted leaders – 4: calming influence
Overreactions are naturally a detriment for business leaders. Introverts can be less likely to lash out or panic in times of trouble. That does not mean they are not concerned about the issues at hand. The way they project themselves to their employees in these cases can make a significant difference. The introvert’s even temper creates a peaceful atmosphere that engenders trust and safety for those around them. Staying stable and calm in all situations can radiate to others in the workplace and especially to customers.
This is an important skill for any executive. Good employees who feel that the leadership team does not hear them may start looking to leave and find a company that will pay proper attention. Introverts can be better equipped to listen and empathize with the people with whom they interact.
Many times, issues like underperformance, for example, stem from an absence of communication, unclear goals, or scenarios outside of a person’s control. While this is not always the case, good leaders explore all options before jumping to a conclusion.
Business leaders who have narcissistic tendencies may find success but a self-absorbed approach will not score many points with employees. Introverts can naturally reject such arrogance in favor of a humbler outlook.
Introverts tend to have an accurate sense of their abilities and achievements. Humility entails the ability to acknowledge mistakes, imperfections, knowledge gaps and limitations. Being humble also indicates an openness to hear new ideas or receive contradictory information. These are all key ingredients for getting ahead in business.
Do introverts lack the necessary confidence for leadership roles?
A 2017 study claims that introverts rarely seek out leadership roles because they lack the necessary confidence. The authors found that what introverts think they will feel in a leadership position plays a powerful role in explaining why introverts struggle to emerge as leaders. When participants thought they would experience negative emotions, these became strong psychological barriers to acting like a leader. Introverts were more likely to think they would feel these negative emotions than extroverts.
Update 8/31/2019: Source to 2017 study is no longer online
Anna Papachristos responds that if the experiments prove these assumptions true, it is only because introverts are innately discriminated against at every level within their given company. Introverts prefer to think before they speak. Introverts prefer to weigh the pros and cons of a given decision before sharing their insight. This does not mean they lack confidence, she says. This simply indicates that they lead with at a slower rate; this does not exactly align with today’s fast-paced business environment.
She urges executives to take a moment to slow down; they would quickly see that for every impulsive leader, there must be another moderating force to help assess the situation and determine the best next steps. Instead of looking at introverts and extroverts as two opposing personalities, she advises companies to treat them as allies. After all, they work to create one cohesive team dedicated to the same goals and outcomes.
Inspiring leadership tactics from introverts
My 2016 blog ‘13 Inspiring Leadership Tactics from Introverts’ keeps receiving much positive attention when I share it. Apparently, many people struggle with being an introvert. Apparently, they also struggle with the fact that people do not view them as great potential for a leadership position. Maybe these easy tips on how to talk like a boss can help you?