The Introvert’s Guide to Leadership

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a while, and I was happy to see that the issue of introversion in leadership became a meaty topic at Leadership Chat Tuesday night.

I had raised it as an issue because a CEO I work with had said that a very senior level executive on her team was letting his introversion get in the way of his success.  I had never heard of this happening before, and raised it as a question for the Leadership Chat Community.  I think what I realized more than anything in the course of the chat is that there is a large degree of misunderstanding when it comes to what it means to be introverted vs. extraverted.

I remember when I was first hired as an Executive Leadership Trainer for the Fortune 500 company that I worked for and was given the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator instrument for the first time.  I discovered I am an introvert.

This didn’t surprise me at all, but it did bother me when I was told that most CEOs and elected officials have, historically, been tall, male, extraverts.  As a quite petite, female, introvert I felt a bit doomed. Although, truth be told, I’ve always believed that with the right amount of confidence and attitude you can have a very large presence wherever you go…

Having said all of that, I do believe it’s vitally important for introverts who wish to be in leadership roles to understand how their introversion is viewed by others, how it may impact teams, and to work to overcome additional challenges.

Let’s start by taking an accurate and critically important look at the difference between introversion and extraversion.

According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation:

Extraversion or Introversion

The first pair of psychological preferences is Extraversion and Introversion. Where do you put your attention and get your energy? Do you like to spend time in the outer world of people and things (Extraversion), or in your inner world of ideas and images (Introversion)?

Extraversion and Introversion as terms used by C. G. Jung explain different attitudes people use to direct their energy. These words have a meaning in psychology that is different from the way they are used in everyday language.

Everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting. Don’t confuse Introversion with shyness or reclusiveness. They are not related.

Take a minute to ask yourself which of the following descriptions seems more natural, effortless, and comfortable for you?

Extraversion (E)
I like getting my energy from active involvement in events and having a lot of different activities. I’m excited when I’m around people and I like to energize other people. I like moving into action and making things happen. I generally feel at home in the world. I often understand a problem better when I can talk out loud about it and hear what others have to say.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “outgoing” or as a “people person.”
  • I feel comfortable in groups and like working in them.
  • I have a wide range of friends and know lots of people.
  • I sometimes jump too quickly into an activity and don’t allow enough time to think it over.
  • Before I start a project, I sometimes forget to stop and get clear on what I want to do and why.

Introversion (I)
I like getting my energy from dealing with the ideas, pictures, memories, and reactions that are inside my head, in my inner world. I often prefer doing things alone or with one or two people I feel comfortable with. I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act. Ideas are almost solid things for me. Sometimes I like the idea of something better than the real thing.

The following statements generally apply to me:

  • I am seen as “reflective” or “reserved.”
  • I feel comfortable being alone and like things I can do on my own.
  • I prefer to know just a few people well.
  • I sometimes spend too much time reflecting and don’t move into action quickly enough.
  • I sometimes forget to check with the outside world to see if my ideas really fit the experience.

One of the most important sentences you just read, I believe, is the one that points out that everyone spends some time extraverting and some time introverting.  Proof of this is the fact that Steve Woodruff (my Leadership Chat Co-Host/Founder) and I got to know each other well when we were two introverts amidst a sea of extraverts at a party.  Since we’re both more comfortable in smaller groups, we found a table to sit at where we could have a very deep discussion about our lives and careers.

And yet, the Leadership Chat Community was quite surprised to find out on Tuesday night that we are both introverts – because, in the Leadership Chat setting, we act as extraverts in order to bring energy and motivation to the larger group and to (hopefully) inspire others to take the chat and bring it to life.

Thus, I believe that for an introvert to be a successful leader, they must do the following (given that this post is way too long already, I plan to take a much closer look at each of these in upcoming posts – please join me for that journey!):

1. Introverts must be willing to tap into their extraversion when it’s time to “rally the troops” and inspire their teams. They must recognize that they may be more reluctant to “move into action” than their extraverted counterparts, and be honest with themselves about this.  Because “moving into action” is critical to a leader’s success, they must become adept at getting outside their comfort zone to make this happen.

2. Introverts must be willing to make themselves visible in the organization in order for their talents to be seen, recognized and rewarded. In my post, “The Introvert’s Guide to Getting Promoted: Step One” I talked about this and gave recommendations on how to make this happen.

3. Introverts must recognize that they have a different approach to decision making than extraverts, and should be comfortable being up front about this. Think about the following sentence from the Introversion description above:

I take time to reflect so that I have a clear idea of what I’ll be doing when I decide to act.

This is a different approach to decision making than our extraverted colleagues.  I have had very candid conversations with those I work with and work for letting them know that I am not comfortable being asked to make a decision “on the spot.” Frequently in phone meetings when asked what I think, you will hear a long reflective pause from me.  This actually makes some people think I don’t like their ideas – and I try to be very clear that I’m, “just thinking it through…”

I think the more introverts are willing to address this head on and view this as a strength – and to ask others to see it this way as well – the less they will be viewed as reserved or indecisive.

4. Introverts should embrace their love of ideas and images. I believe this leads to some of the most promising opportunities that our extraverted colleagues can help us bring to life.  Embrace them and share them, because our love of ideas and images makes us great storytellers.

5. Introverts should use their comfort level with small groups to enhance their relationship building and advisory process. As I mentioned in the story about me and Steve at the party, we had a very deep conversation that led to our current collaboration because we were in our comfort, small-group zone.  Introverts should use this knowledge of ourselves to our advantage by setting up regular small group meetings as a way to get to know our extended teams better, as a way to grow our advisory process, and as a way to expand our opportunities to embrace new ideas. 

6. Finally, introverts must learn to embrace the outside world in order to be truly effective leaders. As much as the world within our heads can be a truly magical place, it’s imperative to embrace and understand the outside world in order to thoroughly understand our customers, competitors and industry trends.  An inability to do so will prevent talented individuals from truly being visionary and strategic.

UPDATE: My new eBook, “The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” is NOW AVAILABLE! You may Download it at www.TheIntrovertsGuide.net for only $7.99 or BUY IT at Amazon for Kindle! 

This 60+ page eBook is for introverts who want to use their introversion to their advantage in business and leadership, and for extroverts who lead introverts and wish to be more effective leaders.


This “Introvert’s Guide” series was initially inspired by my friend Mack Collier’sThe Introvert’s Guide to Speaking post, which in turn inspired my first “Introvert’s Guide” post entitled, “You’re Just Not That Into Me: The Introvert’s Guide to Attending a Conference.”

Photo is Walking Alone by Jucanils.

Comments

  1. I would put an immediate, off-the-cuff comment here. But I really need to think about it some more… ;>} Well-written, Lisa!
    Steve Woodruff´s last blog post ..Free Books – Tonight Only!

  2. Lisa, YES! Excellent post, and I like that its written from your viewpoint, as an introvert.

    One thing that is very important for introverted leaders: be aware of not over-draining your energy in the extraverted activity of leadership. There is a line (different for each introvert) that can be crossed, and its important to know what it is and to take the time and effort to “recharge” batteries.

    • Thank you so much, Mary Jo – I really appreciate that! And an excellent addition about recharging batteries. I agree, tapping into extraversion can be very draining and that recharge time is critical to our own success. Thrilled you added that – thank you so much! And thank you for taking the time to comment…

    • I just want to echo/reinforce Mary Jo’s observation as it was the first thing I wanted to say when reading your post.

      For an introvert, all that extroversion takes energy. It is not uncommon for me to want to spend the day at home with the family after a long conference or a week full of interactions. This isn’t necessarily physical rest, but just a desire to spend some time to myself and a few people close to me.

      I find that when I don’t take this time to myself, I slowly become less effective over time. This is something that cannot be under-stressed.

      -Pie

      • Pie,

        I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s funny because as I was reading your comment and you said “spend the day at home with the family” after a week of conferences or interactions my thought was, “the family? I’d have to spend it completely alone…!” Yes, it’s thoroughly draining to extend ourselves beyond our comfort zone – but can be exhilarating at the same time. Time to recharge and rebalance is critical – thanks so much to you and Mary Jo for pointing this out.

  3. I, too, am an extrovert, but nobody ever believes me! Because I love to present, and am not shy (although I was very shy as a child!), they think I’m an extrovert. I try to explain the difference, and also to explain that I have learned to be more extroverted when necessary, yet they are still skeptical.

    Re: “thinking about things” – when my extroverted son was a child, he used to push me for an immediate decision. I finally told him, “If you have to have an answer right now, the answer is now. If you will let me think about it, it might be yes.” He quickly learned to be a bit more patient!

    • Hi Jean,

      Thanks so much for your comment and I can relate to your experience of people confusing a love of “presenting” with extraversion. We all tap into the other side now and then, and as introverts and leaders being able to present – and communicate well – is certainly critical. Thank you again for being here and taking the time to share.

  4. Thank you for this post Lisa. I’m an introvert who keeps moving into greater leadership roles and I tend to question my abilities because of the time I take to process things and make decisions(like the pause on the phone that you mentioned). Couple that with perfectionist tendencies and it can be tough- ha! This was a really helpful post though, and quite encouraging.

    • You’re welcome, Lindsey. I’m thrilled to hear it was helpful and encouraging – I hope you’ll embrace your introversion instead of questioning it now. Being open about it with your teams so they better understand your process will become invaluable for you as you continue to rise. All the very best of success!

  5. Tobey Deys says:

    Thanks for this, Lisa – I’m fascinated by people and the what/why of them. It made me chuckle when I read that you describe yourself: “a quite petite, female, introvert I felt a bit doomed”. I am a very tall, female introvert and I felt doomed. Throughout my life (so far), when people meet or work with me, they expect me to be VERY extroverted (because of how I look). Makes for a bit of problem when I am actually, by type, INFP (introvert/intuitive/feeling/perceiving) … makes me sound like Yoda ;-)

    Your post is very encouraging; many times, I have had to ‘fake it to make it’ and overcome tendencies to take a step ‘away’ to think. Reading this helps me realize it’s possible to embrace the leadership role without losing touch with the many positive aspects I can offer as an expressive introvert.

    • Tobey,

      So other than our height we have so much in common. :) I’m an INFJ. I’m so glad you are encouraged to embrace your introversion and all the wonderful qualities that come with it – no need to fake it anymore. Simply tap into the extraversion when needed and, as Mary Jo so eloquently reminded us, then be sure to recharge your batteries. All the best – and thank you so much for taking the time to share your own experience here!

  6. Hi Lisa, great post! As you know, I am an online extrovert, offline introvert ;) A problem I sometimes have is that people that don’t know me don’t understand this disconnect. So if they meet me, I seem less outgoing, and have even had people tell me that they thought I was a jerk to them. But it was simply that I am more reserved around people I don’t know yet.

    I think as introverts, we need to understand how we are viewed by others, and it’s not always obvious. But this is especially important if we are leading employees, I think.
    mack collier´s last blog post ..Blogchat LIVE at SXSW Review- Online smartitude goes offline

    • Thank you, Mack – and yes, it’s very clear “in real life” that you are an introvert. Sometimes I think our conference badges should say “Introvert” in addition to our names, so that people don’t get the wrong impression as it sounds like they do with you! You know, I’ve had the same experience growing up – was actually told that I came across early in my career as “standoffish and reserved” when in reality I just was quiet and looking for others to “invite me into” their circles.

      What I learned is that it’s incredibly important to be the one to make the effort – and to do so with a smile and very positive attitude. This can be a lot of work for us introverts, but it is the only way for us to not be misunderstood, and it pays dividends well worth the effort. Mary Jo mentioned that this zaps our energy, and I know this happens to me. I think that’s why “alone time breaks” can be critical at big events, and even during the work day.

      Thanks for being the inspiration for my first “Introvert’s Guide” post, Mack – your friendship has been such a blessing to me!

      • Tobey Deys says:

        That’s interesting you say that, Mack. I’ve heard that people think I’m a snob (which cracks me up … so far from the reality) when actually I’m quite shy and, like you, Lisa, often wait for an invitation. Also interesting was that, in my initial, and continuing, impression of you, Mack, I recognized the introvert :-)

        Lisa; it is very true that approaching situations with a positive attitude (and lots of smiles) helps us to open up to others – and helps them open up to us. I also think that introverts are inherently intuitive, which can make an huge difference when approaching and dealing with others.

        Next step? Must go and read Mack’s “Introvert’s Guide” :-)

  7. KatFrench says:

    I find that #6 relates to the “brilliant but out of touch with reality” leader stereotype that you see a lot.

    I think it’s important to understand how to best leverage your natural strengths and work around your weaknesses as an introvert, but companies also have a responsibility to not pigeonhole their introvert talent. I have a good friend who was told that he had no career advancement potential at his current job because “as an introvert, you aren’t management material.”

    • Kat,

      I think you’re right about that stereotype. And I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. I think it’s a two way street – companies absolutely should not pigeonhole talent – they will lose some of their best people that way – but introverts also need to recognize that it’s imperative to get out of their comfort zone on #1 through 5 to show they can be effective leaders. I think the fact that the executive in my CEO story wasn’t willing to do that was what was holding him back.

      So thrilled that you shared your thoughts and your friend’s story here – thank you so much for that!

  8. Well written post, Lisa. In my world as a Coach, I find I have to deal with this issue frequently. The first comment you made about “tapping into their extrovert” is what I try to do as a Coach. “Pretend what you are not” or in the AA world, “Fake it till you make it”. Teaching people to be “adaptive” and learn new skills is the basis of coaching and learning to be more comfortable in a unnatural role is very achievable. I do it all the time in my job as a Coach.

    I am going to forward your post to a number of folks I know; you did an excellent job. BTW, I am an “I” in the MBTI world… who had to learn new ways to do things as a CEO and now as a Coach. But it is hard work sometimes, even today. You have encouraged me and many others!
    Craig Juengling´s last blog post ..Get the Right People on the Bus

    • Thank you so much, Craig. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you’ll be sharing this post with others and that you feel encouraged by it! It’s interesting that you deal with this frequently as a coach, and that a lot of what you’re helping people with is tapping into their “other side.” I find that fascinating to know that it’s a huge need out there. Thanks so much for sharing with me and, again, for your willingness to share this post with others. The best of success to you.

  9. Great blog, I am really impressed. I am an MBTI coach and use it widely with clients but I would stress that because you are something doesnt mean a) you are any good at it or b) that you can only live in that space. MBTI is like a series of houses and you can visit any of them any time.

    The point is energy, it takes loads more energy to behave in as an extravert if you are an introvert and vice versa.

    I have blogged on this and am intending to blog some more. It would be great if I could put in a link to this blog as I think it is really insightful.

    In terms of leadership I am not sure one type is better than another because MBTI is never about how well you do something only about your preferences.
    Ali Handscomb´s last blog post ..Seeing things from your customers point of view

    • Ali,

      I can’t thank you enough for your kind words, especially knowing you are an MBTI coach. I love how you say that it’s not true that “you can only live in that space.” We absolutely can live in other spaces – or maybe just visit them from time to time and then come back home and recharge. :) I’d be honored if you would like to my blog – all the best to your success!

  10. Donovan Cronkhite says:

    I was thrilled when this topic popped up in the chat. As someone who pegs the introvert scale on a Myers-Briggs test, it’s something that I’ve had to battle for a long time. I think the most misunderstood thing about introverts is the period of reflection. Too often we see our leaders as those who just charge into battle.

    It’s unfortunately that people see introspection, or even pauses in answering questions, as a weakness. Personally, I’m much better if I can have a day or two to formulate plans of actions and weigh the consequences and follow-up actions of each option. But in today’s world, the quick action and instant response is seen as the better option.

    The two keys I’ve always seen as an introvert leader is to surround yourself with people who are strong at your weaknesses. Another key is to look farther into the future than anyone else around you. This allows the introvert time to prepare and when the time comes action can come quicker as you’ve already considered options and scenarios.

    • Donovan,

      I’m sorry to hear that this has been such a battle for you – truly. I absolutely agree with you that our need for introspection and reflection is important and often misunderstood, and at the same time I encourage you to be very open with your teams about your need for a day or two to enable your thoughts and decisions to coalesce. I don’t think that people I work with see this need as a weakness if I explain it to them and am very up front about it. By giving ourselves a day or two to make decisions or recommendations it means we are being very thoughtful in our approach – it does not mean we are indecisive. I see many extraverts who respond instantly but don’t actually make decisions…

      And I love your commitment to surrounding yourself with people who complement you and your commitment to vision! Thank you so much for sharing your own experience here – it means a lot to me!

  11. Lisa, Definite thanks for this post. It accurately depicts what I have been grappling with over the last month or so. I have many moments where I need to extroverted and I am completely drained after those times. I did not fully understand it until this article. Armed with this, my goal is to learn how to effectively manage it.

    • You’re welcome, Christy – I am so glad to hear that it’s timely. I wish you all the best of success now that you have a better understanding of your own needs! Thank you for being here and for sharing here.

  12. Great to see you tackling the issue of “personality” and leadership. Often extrovert tendencies are valued over introvert counterparts. Truth is – there are healthy (and unhealthy) expressions of BOTH. Our opportunity is always to become more whole human beings. The enneagram has been a good guide in this area.

    I love how you’ve learned to be up-front with your colleagues about your decision making style. That kind of self-awareness and transparency is extremely valuable.

    I’d be curious to also see a post on how extrovert leaders can benefit from stretching into their introvert aspects.
    Justice Marshall´s last blog post ..Confessions of a former Spammer

    • Justice,

      Thank you so much for the kind words and the very balanced viewpoint. I love your point about there being both healthy and unhealthy expressions of introversion and extraversion, and the importance of becoming more whole (and I’d again say balanced.)

      Also love the blog post idea…I may need an extraverted guest to help me with that. I’ll have to think about it… ;) Thank you so much for all your insights!

  13. Thank you so much for this topic. Looking forward to more!

  14. Excellent post Lisa. Leaders are in a position of primary influence and responsibility. Self-knowledge is one of the first steps to a leader’s greatness.

    Then, the leader must be willing adapt. In truth high performance teams have this “adaptability” trait in all team members.

    Yet the leader is a great place to start. Both extroverted and introverted leaders must make adjustments.

    Alas, the introvert may feel the greater pressure to adjust because of the “outward” demands on a leader.

    Great post and I will RT on Twitter.
    Kate
    Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach´s last blog post ..The Opposite of Leader is Not Follower

    • Thank you, Kate. I absolutely love your perspective that self-knowledge is one of the first steps to a leader’s greatness – that is truly a poignant insight. And I couldn’t agree with you more that in teams we must all learn to adapt. I wonder if introverts do feel more pressure – this might be something to do some interesting research on. :) Honored to have you here and genuinely appreciate all of your support! Thank you, Kate.

  15. Over the years, Lisa, I have found the following things have helped me get out of myself and become more outgoing:
    1. Conviction about what is right (firm belief helps overcome self-doubt)
    2. Competence recognized by others (maybe I do have something to offer…)
    3. Cheerleading by supportive colleagues (you CAN do it!)
    4. Being forced, over and over, to interact with others due to job roles
    5. Social media – where I can “pre-meet” people in a way that is very safe for my inner introvert, then feel much more comfortable face-to-face.
    However, I still don’t like loud unstructured crowd scenes, and don’t expect I ever will!!!
    Steve Woodruff´s last blog post ..Free Books – Tonight Only!

    • Steve,

      I love that you know these 5 things about yourself – and I think it’s fascinating how you used the word “forced” in number 4. What I can relate to the most, from my own perspective, is number 5 – I absolutely agree that meeting online makes it much easier to look forward to the in-person get together. So glad we met at SOBCon last year…just imagine if we hadn’t connected! (Our Tuesday evenings would be more relaxing, but a lot less fun). :)

  16. Lisa, please let me add to the chorus of commenters who think you shared great insights in this post! I will definitely be following along with the rest of your thoughts here. I especially appreciated what you said about how some people might think I don’t like their ideas when I’m simply taking time to process what they said. I had never thought about it like that, but it really rings true, and in my work as a nonprofit communication officer, I think it would serve me well to be more open about my quieter leadership style and decision-making process when it differs from others.

    For most of my career, I worked at newspapers as a reporter and editor, and that definitely stretched me out of my “introvert” comfort zone. In newsrooms – especially when a huge story breaks – often decisions are made very quickly with many people loudly battling over ideas and which stories will get the limited space in the paper. There were lots of hills that I wasn’t willing to die on, but I did learn that to be effective in those jobs, I had to make quick decisions, try to pick the right battles and stand my ground. Over time, I became more comfortable in that environment and liked that I could openly voice my ideas and make a strong case for them.

    These days, I’m really trying to find an introvert/extrovert balance that works well for me and doesn’t drain my energy too much, as others here have said. Thanks again for a great post.

    • Kathy,

      It means a lot when I write something that resonates with someone else’s real-world experiences – so I’m honored that it’s been helpful to you. It sounds like you have learned quite a lot about your ability to balance yourself in both worlds in different environments – that alone is a tremendous accomplishment. And what a goal to find the balance that isn’t draining – that is actually a great goal to set your sights on. I look forward to having you along for the journey!

      All the very best and thank you so much for sharing your own experience and insights here!

  17. WOW!

    Thank you, Lisa. This is an outstanding article. Love it. I am an introvert – in a very extroverted industry sales/real estate. Extremely helpful information.

    Ken

  18. Hi Lisa:

    This is a very enlightening post that makes a lot of sense. While I’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs, I know I’m an introvert with some extrovert tendencies. Sure there are moments I feel shy in front of others, but feel very comfortable walking up to total strangers many other moments. I’d like to think that as an introvert, we are more inclined to listen and make more reflective decisions. But, as you suggested in this post, we need to cross the line and make ourselves more visible. Great stuff!

    • Thank you, Tim! It sounds like you are very comfortable tapping into extraversion when it’s needed – kudos to you and wishing you all the very best of success! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your own experience – it means a lot to me!

  19. Lisa: It’s been a long time since I’ve read such a useful, well written, well organized post. Just found your blog via Twitter. I’m going to follow you now and tweet this link to my followers. Well done! Susan

  20. I was going to comment, but I’m too shy. ;)

    Seriously, I can’t say enough about this post Lisa. I am grateful. There is a misconception that introverts are unable to speak, express, inspire, motivate and lead. We do and quite well. We require energy to do such activities where extroverts are energized by them.

    Your idea of strengthening our work with small groups is a profound reminder and can also serve as prep work for larger group settings.

    Thank you so much for touching on this important leadership concept, I look forward to the series.
    Mike Cassidy´s last blog post ..Does Your Organization Have A Bucket List

    • Mike, now you sound just like Steve Woodruff… :)

      I can’t thank you enough for the very kind words – I’m so glad to know that some of these recommendations are valuable to you in a variety of ways. All the best and see you Tuesday night! Happy Weekend…

  21. Its so easy for people to see introversion as a handicap to overcome rather than a different approach that brings a different dynamic and a different perspective.

    I love the small group approach for connecting and building relationships
    CoffeeJitters´s last blog post ..Dear Gem – Month 23

  22. Really great post. The specificity of your description, Lisa, is very, very helpful.

    As a coach, I do not personally find much difference between extraverts and introvert leaders when it comes to reaching out to others to build trusting relationships. That might sound a bit strange given the energy dynamics you’ve identified so well, but sometimes neither profile is terribly good at dealing with the the absence of trust or active mistrust that may be at play. The process of “reaching out” to build and re-build relationships may be a particularly vulnerable one, requiring truth and care, and I’m sensing neither profile really has the edge on those qualities. In fact, it may be the capacity to reach past either profile type to see others, affirm and recognize them, and to honor them truly, that may be the pre-eminent leadership challenge (and gift).
    Dan Oestreich´s last blog post ..Broken World

    • Thank you, Dan – and thank you so much for sharing such an insightful comment. I can see what you’re saying – that it takes vulnerability to reach out regardless of introverted or extraverted preferences, and that can be difficult for absolutely anyone. So honored that you shared your experiences here – thank you so much!

  23. Hi Lisa!

    Your ideas here absolutely resonate with me. I’m an extremely friendly introvert and that has confused many people, including sometimes myself. Except for the part where I was solely a freelance writer for years (and didn’t have to leave the house much) I’ve always been drawn to work that requires a lot of interaction with people. I have found that the paradox has always worked as long as I have a true belief in and passion for what I am trying to accomplish. When belief and passion are missing, or if I’m just having a challenging time with something, I have to be sure to fit in even more alone time, resting up and mentally preparing myself to do what I’ve got to do. I have found in leadership positions it’s all gotten easier as I get older (gasp)… the high sensitivity that seems to to come along with introversion doesn’t automatically insist on traveling hand in hand with insecurity. I embrace and honor my tendencies (quirkiness?) and am not so concerned with appearing to be “extroverted,” as if something is the matter with the way I am (which I admit, I did believe for way too many years.)Thanks for a provocative post. I’m glad to have found your site!

    • Hi Margo,

      I’m so glad you found it as well – it’s a pleasure to have you here! I love that you’ve connected your ability to succeed with a true belief in what you are doing, and with your passion. I agree, they absolutely go hand in hand. And I’m so glad to hear you are no longer trying to “appear” extraverted – you’re not being true to yourself when you do that. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your own personal journey – I really appreciate it!

  24. …and at the end of 51 comments I say: Thank you so much for this. I am an introvert but find myself in leadership positions more than I can understand. I love the energy of generating ideas, vision casting, and seeing what’s possible. As I move more into a senior level in my career, I have begun to realize that I have to be able to rally people together. People are the other part of generating ideas. And getting people to support what is actually bigger than me requires that I become skilled at building and nurturing relationships. All that to say I am subscribing to your blog, which is big for me because this would be the one and only blog I’ve subscribed to.

    Inspired by what you’re doing,

    Jevon
    Jevon Bolden´s last blog post ..4 Reasons Why You Need to Be at the UCF Book Festival This Year

    • Jevon,

      I am honored by that – truly. And I will do my best to keep writing posts that are valuable to you as you ascend in your career. So thankful to have you along for the ride – and I hope you like tomorrow’s post! It’s all about motivating… :) Thank you again for being here and for sharing such kind words with me.

  25. Clinton Schleining says:

    Lisa,
    I really appreciated this post. This is a topic that I have never heard addressed. I have often felt like a fish out of water. The truth is that there are a lot of us out there. The extroverts are too busy communicating to notice and we are too reserved to draw attention to ourselves.
    Good teams are made of diverse personalities. Introverts have a lot of unique abilities to bring to the table. Just to name a couple off the top of my head…I believe that introverts generally build stronger teams with greater personal “buy-in”. And of course don’t forget the old saying “fools rush in”.
    Thanks for your post and I enjoyed your presentation in Lincoln. Looking forward to reading more on the subject.
    Clinton Schleining

    • Clinton,

      It’s wonderful to connect again – thank you so much for reaching out!

      I understand that “fish out of water” feeling and wish more introverts could see it around them in others – and then just band together. :) I think you and Steve are making similar points about introverts creating deeper, one-on-one relationships, and that may be true. It certainly can be a strength of ours if we commit to going beyond that comfort zone we have and truly trying to connect with others.

      So thankful for your comment – and hope to see you here again soon. :)

  26. Thank you Lisa! Very relevant to me. I was looking for content on leadership and introversion and I came across your page. I am subscribing! I have experienced that I might be hampering my leadership abilities/opportunities at work due to certain traits. This lead me in search of wanting to improve and knowing that I also wanted to be myself at the same time! I am in a position where I need to speak up and manage others and most of the time, I am not really comfortable! I am so much more ‘myself’ when alone, when not under the spotlight and only with few others I am very comfortable with. Thank you for this post, and I look forward to more indepth posts on the points.

  27. I am a pastor and an introvert. This post really defined for me my leadership style. Thanks for giving me the words to explain my style to others.

    • Allen,

      Thrilled to know that the post resonated with you and will help you as you communicate with others. Wishing you all the best in your role – what an inspiring role to have!

  28. This was such as refreshing post to read. As a former Army officer, I feel that I have had to tap into my extrovert pool nearly everyday to succeed, but I am extremely introverted during my “off” time. Its almost two different lives to live. As a person currently looking for a post Army civilian career, it is difficult to explain my unique leadership style during interviews. Although I could “rally the troops” as you mentioned above, I really prefer leading through mentorship and meaningful relationships. It was also nice to see in the comments that people get just as exhausted as I do after pulling all things extrovert out of myself at work or social events. Thanks for the post!

    • Jamie – thank you so much and you’re very welcome. You know, l have learned over time just how critical it is to take time to myself on days that I absolutely have to tap into that extroversion. I’ve been at a number of events recently and the weariness increases over time if you don’t take that time to recharge.

      Your awareness of this within yourself should be an asset as you look to your next role. Others will appreciate your ability to rally the troops, yet also be able to excel at one-on-one coaching. All the very best to you and please keep me posted on what role you decide to take!

  29. Great post Lisa! I think your suggestions are excellent.

  30. rcharney says:

    As a card-carrying introvert coach and consultant, your insights and suggestions hit home for me and for many of my clients. Thank you!

  31. Wow, this is fantastic – to see other introverts having the same experience as I. I have always worked my way into a leadership position, getting involved in areas that I think are important, joining charity events, but I’m in a position where my boss seems only to “pay attention to” and promote those that are like her – direct and extroverted. How does an introvert self-promote and get seen by the other major company players? Can you recommend some inspriring reading material.

    I really enjoy this post and your writings, Lisa! Keep it going!

  32. Just recently have I really taken notice how my introversion is causing “business suicide”. Having my colleagues and bosses tell me to go out and establish relationships is akin to the geeky teenager being pushed by his buddies to talk to the most popular girl in school because he finds her pretty. It’s nice to finally get some worthwhile advice that has a chance to work, since it plays off of an introvert’s stengths rather than an extravert’s.

    • Dave, I’m honored to know that it’s helped you. And yes, you need to approach networking in a way that is comfortable for you, not your extroverted colleagues. If they understand this, they can help you succeed. All the best!

  33. Good post. Just as there are different personality types, there are different models of leadership – some more fitting of certain personality types than other. Good leaders need to be aware of the variety of personality types and learning styles in order to meet team members where they are at. Having your team take MBTI tests can really help a leader understand the reference points of each member of their team.

  34. hi
    im an introvert and do not have the gift of gab, which is as important, if not more, to get noticed in an organisation. your article makes me feel that there is hope for an introvert only if they adopt traits of an extrovert! but thats the difficult part and i would not want to pretend to be someone im not!

  35. In the past, it was thought that some people were born with certain traits that fitted them to assume command, and the study of leadership consisted of analyzing these traits. Personal factors are indeed a factor in leadership, but many studies have pointed up the fact tat the nature of the situation and the composition of the group are also of great importance.
    leadership´s last blog post ..Personal Qualities Of a Leader

  36. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a great article… but what
    can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage
    to get anything done.
    download twilight ebook´s last blog post ..download twilight ebook

  37. Thrilled to hear that!

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  1. [...] Everyone always thinks its the jocks and loud mouthed extroverts that get to be CEO’s. Well a soft spoken female is here to tell you introverts got a chance too. [...]

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