Thriving as an Introverted Leader

As part of my work with clients around how they communicate with others and the impact of such communication, we regularly delve into their preferences, often through the use of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).   One of the scales explored through the MBTI assessment is the extroversion/introversion scale. To be clear this scale is not about how friendly or social you are – instead, it is about where you gain your energy. Extroverts tend to gain their energy from engaging with others and the outside world, whereas introverts receive their energy from engaging with their inner world and reflection.

Clients of mine who express preference for Introversion often have some of their greatest “aha moments” relating to why they sometimes are challenged in their interactions when they begin to further understand  Extroversion/Introversion preferences during the MBTI feedback process.

Some of these insightful moments help Introverted Leaders understand that extroverts and introverts take very different approaches to work and social processes . Having a deeper understanding of these preferences helps them become more observant of those on their team (as well as peers and their leaders) and what drives them.  Here are some challenges which may arise and some different ways of managing these challenges:

·       The challenge as a leader to ensure all team members get to contribute equally:

 Extroverted preferences  are drawn toward groups and they tend to think out loud. They are energized by social gatherings and shared ideas   In contrast, introverts typically dislike big group settings - they may enjoy business meetings and some gatherings, but are more energized by smaller group settings and having opportunities to think things through before sharing. The challenge here as a leader is to ensure all team members get to contribute and that ideas are shared equally. Consider forwarding agenda or topics for meetings in advance so Introverted preferences have time to reflect in advance of the meeting so they are better equipped to share. As an Introverted Leader, you may also find it is useful to have your team forward agenda items they may bring up at meetings to you in advance,  whilst you cannot be prepared for all discussions which may organically arise, it may be useful for you to get some time to reflect in advance.  Clients have also found that the "having a meeting before the meeting" with more vocal and high volume contributors can be helpful to gauge any big ticket items that may need to be discussed outside of the meeting setting which need more reflection and processing time.

·       The introverted leader leading a predominantly extroverted team:

 Becoming more aware of and understanding what helps both introverts and extroverts find and retain energy will help promote balance;  extroverts can bring enthusiasm to teams, which is something leaders will want to encourage, as an introverted leader you can contribute by helping them to listen, reflect, and become more open to the perspectives of their more silent and possibly more introverted peers (as well as your perspective)

·       Replenishing your energy levels when faced with multiple extroverted daily activities

 Leaders who understand their preference for Introversion can also become more effective at self-care which will enhance their resilience and adaptability. For those leaders who identify as having an extreme preference for Introversion,  it will be essential to carve out time to engage in more introverted activities both in work , for example calendaring protected time for tasks that require reflection, and outside of work through engaging in activities that allow energy levels to be replenished.

From my experience Introverted Leaders thrive when they better understand their preference, what they contribute, what they need from others, and others from them and when they become aware of their blind spots and areas for improvement.

If any of this topic resonates with you book a free 30 minute consultation around thriving as an Introverted Leader