Cubicles are the worst invention for the workplace since the sixties. They were meant to give employees more freedom but have made them more unproductive and unfulfilled.
However, in the workplace, it seems to mostly benefit extroverted people. Indeed, extroverted individuals are friendly, partake in all the fun, get the most important projects and assume the most important positions, know everyone and go further in life. Therefore, introverts either tend to force themselves to adapt to society’s expectation or to give up on their dreams and desire for leadership.
Contrary to popular belief, introverts can be leaders even though introversion is considered a weakness.
There are many attributes to being an introverted leader. Introverted leaders are hard workers and high performers who simply lack people skill, who need their own time to think and become anxious otherwise. They have a rich imagination, get bored easily, love to retreat, yearn for quiet time, are energized by solitude, avoid social exchange and finally extract their strength from within.
Wondering how to harness your influence and how to make a difference as an introverted leader?
Being an introverted leader has its many challenges in today’s competitive and aggressive workplace. Introverted leaders image and performance suffer because they:
- are seen as weirdos, deviates and antisocial because they lack interpersonal skills,
- are connected to the world 24/7, cannot escape anymore and shut down because they constantly feel invaded,
- get fatigued from being around people all day, are easily and somatically affected by stress,
- are unable to be assertive, to choose their own projects, to sell themselves and their achievements, to show themselves in the best light and say no to additional work,
- downplay or are unaware of their potential,
- are unable to build relationships that will take their career to the next level and become visible.
How to succeed as an introverted leader? Challenges of being an introverted leader
An introverted leaders has tremendous work to do to exhibit expected leadership behaviors. These behaviors will be unnatural at first but will become second nature with practice.
Work on yourself
Working on yourself does not imply that you have or are a problem or that introversion is a disorder but means that you want to become the best version of yourself. To delete faulty assumptions about you and to reduce the pressure of an interaction:
- Know yourself, your strengths, weaknesses, blindspots, limitations in order to increase your self-confidence, your emotional intelligence, to believe in yourself and capabilities, to be able to detach yourself in difficult situations, to avoid downplaying their personalities, external appearance, capabilities and past successes.
- Because introverts internalize their problems, it is detrimental for you to value yourself, and treat yourself with respect, stop the self-destructive talk and make daily affirmative statements and acknowledge your mistakes.
- Give yourself time to process your thoughts internally and to recharge your batteries.
- Introverts are inwardly oriented and cannot think on their feet. To compensate, mentally prepare yourself for conversations, presentations, interactions, meetings, job interviews by taking notes, learning key phrases and introduction, composing probing questions, producing back up topics and stories, and finally inviting feedback.
- Control your voice and your body language. For example, as you are difficult to read, manage your facial expression, smile and look people in the eye to appear approachable.
- Avoid gossiping, pleasing others, running away from conflicts, passive aggressive behavior, learn to participate in office politics, to resolve conflicts effectively and realistically locate the origin of the problem.
- Introvert leaders and employees don’t complain and take on more work that they can handle. Learn to set limits, to say no and different ways to decline an invitation, to ask for help and for directions.
- Take risks and get out your comfort zone to find new opportunities, discover new capabilities and know your limitations, increase your skills and knowledge, get creative and innovative.
Work on your relationships with others
Introverts are generally reserved, appear to be self-absorbed, act their way through their day and stay away from small talk. Maintaining meaningful relationships with people are difficult in itself without feeling the need to put on a front and without feeling exhausted by the process. While interacting with people, it is critical to:
- Focus on the present moment, connect with people and give them your full attention. Actively listen (introverts are naturally good listeners), show authenticity and interest in the conversations, and extract what you need from the interaction to make a profound and lasting impression.
- Know your team members, the purpose of the interaction to clarify and organize your speech.
- Match people with their appropriate tasks by reading and observing them, by analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, by coaching them into their purpose. Understand the roles and ambition of your teammates.
- Create a vision and incorporate each member of the workplace into it.
- Set standards for your team and write them down, build up your credibility and team motivation.
- Use open and direct communication. Write down valuable information in all cases.
- Use social media platforms to network.
- Find other introverts in your workplace and your energy will automatically increase.
Work on your understanding of your organization
To honor your introverted nature and to better understand the corporate culture and its priorities
- Introverted leaders generally exercise reflective leadership. However, adapt your leadership style to the people, on their cultural background, on the situation, organization, on the level of extraversion of the crowd.
- Gain additional visibility of your organization by taking on diverse assignments.
- When being hired, negotiate a serenity package in your job where you get an office, a consequential lunch break for example.
- Find a coach or a mentor and create an effective support system.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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