Leadership Advice for Young Introverted Leaders

Leadership Advice for Young Introverted LeadersLast week I had the pleasure of coaching a group of young, rising stars at one of Chicago’s largest companies as part of the Magnetic Leadership Program. It’s work I adore and wish I could do more of because I know it makes a difference and provides valuable insight for high-potential leaders to accelerate their success.

I was honored to have the opportunity to coach a gentleman who is clearly an introvert and at the relative beginnings of a career that promises to be stellar. He told me he’s being encouraged by his management to “change” in order to be more successful, which is feedback I suspect many young introverts receive. If you’re a long-time reader of this Visionary Leadership blog you probably know what my response was: “That’s the last thing you need to do. You need to be true to yourself in order to be an authentic leader.”

Change vs. Strategies for Success

Introverts absolutely do not need to change who they are or act like an extrovert in order to be successful. At the same time, there comes a point in our careers where we absolutely do need strategies that will help boost us up the ladder rungs. As I wrote in The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership,

“While both introverted and extraverted leaders excel at leadership and in business, it’s my experience that introverts have a more difficult time moving up the ladder to reach the executive level in the real world, for a variety of reasons.

These reasons include, but are not limited to, being less comfortable seeking the visibility required to be recognized within a company, a lack of mentoring on how to network effectively in a way that is comfortable for introverts, the fact that introverts tend to move to action less quickly than their extraverted counterparts, and that they may be less likely to ask for new opportunities and increased responsibilities because of their more reserved nature.

I believe it’s also because they simply have a more difficult time, particularly during the formative part their career and in job interviews, putting themselves out there in a way that gets them noticed and boosts them up the ladder rungs.”

Getting Noticed is Critical

That last sentence is critical for young, introverted leaders, especially high achievers who have been very successful based on the results they’ve driven early in their career. We want to believe that what’s made us successful in the past will continue to make us successful in the future.

Here’s the important truth: As you look to move up the ladder of an organization, it’s not enough to get results and it’s not realistic to think you’ll only be evaluated on your results. Instead, you’ll be evaluated on intangibles like confidence, assertiveness, poise, and presence, as well as more tangible traits like resourcefulness, demonstrating company values, and articulation. And all of this is on top of more familiar leadership skills including creating and communicating a clear vision and aligning your team and strategies to bring this vision to life.

But the only way you’ll have the opportunity to be evaluated is if:

1. You make sure you become fully visible in the organization

2. You ensure your ideas become visible in the organization

And this is where it becomes more challenging for introverts. Introverts need strategies that enable them to “move along the scale” toward extroversion, as necessary, to become effective, inspiring leaders. But they can do this in ways that are comfortable for them as introverts, with the right guidance and support from upper management. And believe me when I say when introverts do share their ideas and insights in the world of business and leadership, people listen.

So my introverted colleagues, I plead with you not to listen to anyone – boss, coach, colleague, family member, or friend – who asks you to change who you are. Honor your introversion – it’s a gift laden with many unique and valuable strengths!

But accept the responsibility to learn strategies that will enable you to take the power in your ideas, and your inner self, and make that power visible and invaluable to your organization!


The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

The Introvert's Guide to Success in Business and Leadership

Are you an introvert looking to use your introversion to your advantage in business & leadership or an extrovert interested in leading introverts more effectively? I wrote this eBook for you…

The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” eBook is NOW Available! Now an Amazon Best Seller & Hot New Release, Featured on Huffington Post, and the inspiration behind my Harvard Business Review article!

BUY Now on Amazon for Kindle or Buy it at B&N for Nook! 

Click here to DOWNLOAD in PDF format. Thank you!

Being an introvert is truly an advantage in business and leadership if you know how to leverage it, and if you remain true to yourself.

Photo from http://www.napleschamber.org/chamber/young-professionals/.


  1. Loved it! Thank you Lisa! great pointers for the rising stars! Cheers!
    Louis House´s last blog post ..The brain likes surprises

  2. Lisa – how true… as you move up the ladder, the curve between results and visibility (confidence, politics, etc etc) changes. I discovered this the hard way as my own career was on a decently high arc… then ended. I was an introvert… now i have recast myself as an extroverted-intevert. Your book could have made a difference back then… and even now. well done! stephen

    • Honored to know you believe it can genuinely be of value to those early in their careers, and even now for you in your own career. Thank you for sharing your perspective, Stephen, I sincerely appreciate it!

  3. Lisa,
    I’m glad you wrote this post. As introverts, we have to constantly evaluate ourselves, and find areas where we can improve on our assertiveness and overall presence. But, when we put forth committed effort to this, it will reap dividends.

  4. Good advice indeed; sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone but the more you can work to the strengths the more valuable you will be to your organization. Finding a way to accomplish this without changing who you are and thus working to your weakness, is a road map for success.

    I guess it’s possible to flip the switch; back in high school I was extremely shy. However, after 3 years in the Army, a college degree and a career in sales I am very comfortable being ‘social.’

    Just like anything, it takes all types. The more you can work to your strengths the better you will be.
    Bill Dorman´s last blog post ..The big do-over, wiping the social slate clean

  5. Hi Lisa, firstly I’d like to say that I love your blog. It’s wonderful to have such encouraging material for introverts. As an introvert myself, I have fallen into some of the traps that you described – hoping that my results would speak for themselves and being extremely disappointed and discouraged when that didn’t happen. In spite of the many challenges of being an introvert, I managed to struggle up the corporate ladder to CEO, but without the support to “move along the scale ” to extroversion at the time, I think I did my career many injustices.

    I completely agree with your advice about being be true to yourself but at the same time learning to develop strategies to cope with expectations that the extroverted world places on us! Of, if I could turn back the clock, the number of things I would do differently!
    Coach Mi´s last blog post ..Pushing past self-limiting beliefs – a personal story

    • Thank you so much, Mi, and what an honor that you’ve shared your career experience here. Kudos to you for making your way to CEO by being true to yourself in the process! I’m thrilled to know the post resonated with you. All the best and thank you so much for taking the time to be here and to share your personal insights!

  6. I am sorry to say I felt a bit disappointed reading this article. It started of with talking about how introverts need not become extroverts. It then talked about why just having skills is not good enough, one needs visibility and hence extrovert-ism is required. Finally following up with that introverts can rise up while retaining their introvert-ism by adopting strategies that help them match up with extroverts.

    But the real meat or proof of this hypothesis, an indication of what kind of strategies might work, is totally missing. It’s like a teaser advert for the book and not an article.

    Warm Regards
    girish kohli´s last blog post ..Building Engagement – Recruiting For Passion

    • Hi Girish, I’m sorry you feel this way. To be clear, being an extrovert or acting like one is not required. The strategies I laid out in the eBook, and honestly in other blog posts that you’ll find in my “Introvert’s Guide” blog post series, are designed to keep introverts in their comfort zone as much as possible! That’s why I wrote the eBook – there was just so much more to say! :)

  7. Thank you for your article and advice.

    I have always been an introvert, but really did not know how to be myself and forced myself to act extroverted with dire consequences to my overall health over many years.

    I have only begun to scratch the surface of this problem…but am learning to work through it by honoring who I really am, and the skill set I do bring to the table even in my senior years.

    • Thank you for sharing your personal experience, Hella! It’s an honor to have you here and to know you are learning to honor who you really are! All the best to you. :)

  8. Great Article. Good advice for young introverted (and not so young,like myself) leaders. I think one of the greatest impediments I’ve run into during my career is an aversion to making myself noticed. I always assumed that my work would speak for itself. Unfortunately that is not always the case. Thanks!

    • Thank you, Darrell, for taking the time to write and for veryifying that it is sometimes difficult for us introverts to make sure we are noticed. I wish you all the best and genuinely appreciate you being here!

  9. Thanks for some other beneficial site. The site more might I get that kind of info written in this sort of fantastic method? I’ve a business that we’re just now running upon, and I have been on the particular glance away pertaining to similarly info.

  10. Being an introvert is a by product of the environment we have gotten used to during our younger years. I do believe that it is more of a characteristic, which can still be redirected if the person acknowledges that he/she has to change for the better. What is important is recognizing one’s weakness and acting to turn this weakness into strength. Leaders cannot be introverts given the countless responsibilities asssigned on their shoulder. They cannot be forever introverts because of the great deal of personalities the leader is supposed to interact with in the course of running the organization.
    Claire | Develop Leadership Skills´s last blog post ..Coming Soon – Watch This Space


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