Anyone who wants to run a business has got to be an extrovert, right? They’re natural born leaders.
Outgoing. Talkative. Sociable. Not afraid to be the centre of attention.
At least, that’s what a lot of people think and is what they expect of an entrepreneur.
Introverts, however, are a different personality type completely.
Quiet. Reflexive. Shying away from attention. Happier in their own company.
And they’re just as powerful at leading in their business.
Why extroverts aren’t always the best leaders
When it comes to leadership, extroverts are bold, confident, dominant and assertive in their style. They command attention.
At least, that’s how we imagine them.
The problems arise when they’ve got to lead other extroverts, when they must work with other proactive people who share the same traits.
Projects can transform into a power struggle, and if the extroverted CEO reacts badly to this situation it can demoralise their subordinates. They may be unwilling to cooperate with their leader or to share their ideas with them — or both.
So, don’t curse your introverted nature, thinking you might be able to lead better if you were more of an extrovert. It’s not always the case.
How to lead when you’re an introvert
If you’re the one steering the ship and you’re an introvert, it’s not a disaster waiting to happen. Not by a long shot.
Some of the greatest leaders in the world are introverts.
Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet…. They’re all introverts, but their success in leadership positions could make you think otherwise.
The trick is to take the positive traits of your nature and make them work for you, not see them as a disadvantage.
How do you do that?
Get to know your team
One of the best things you can do as an introvert is get to know the people who keep your business running, regardless of whether they work within your business or they’re external providers.
The better you can communicate with them and the better you understand them, the more it will help you lead in the right way.
Arrange a meeting, one to one, just to chat. You’ll be able to interact much easier with each other after it.
Make the most of this opportunity to pay attention to their attitude towards work. This can help you when forming teams.
Introverts have a superb reputation for being good listeners.
Good communication is essential in business and you can start simply by listening — really listening — to what others have to say.
As an introvert, you’ll have a natural ability to connect and empathise with people. They’ll feel more comfortable around you, instead of going about their work tensely.
You’ll also earn trust. Listening well enough can get you to the bottom of a problem and if someone trusts you, they’ll be more willing to discuss it with you. By listening, you give yourself the freedom to consider the matter from all angles.
Think carefully, but be sure to act
That natural tendency to ‘think things through’ rather than act first and study things later can work in your favour.
For a start, by not rushing in, you can spare yourself a disaster.
So do take the time to reflect on the situation, with all its intricacies and from several different angles.
Don’t, however, become paralysed with inaction. You’ve still got to deal with the situation. It’s okay to be an introvert, but it mustn’t stop you from acting.
Apply the light touch
Sometimes extroverts see every problem as a nail and, as we all know, nails require hammers.
Not every problem is a nail, though, and sometimes you can achieve just as much with a softer approach as you can with a hammer; in fact, sometimes, you can accomplish more.
Your deep reflection of issues within the business will help you to identify when this is the case. It’s an important skill.
You can; you just think you can’t
Leadership isn’t just for the extroverts.
The power is in the introverts, too.
Sociability and proactivity will get you a long way; but deep-reflection on strategies and solutions will carry you just as far, if not further.
So, don’t mistake your introversion for a minus and think that you can’t succeed.
Consider it a plus.