The demands of management and leadership do not always align neatly with the inherent traits of introversion. Introverted Business Leadership is possible, good and unique!
Introverts, by their very nature, enjoy and make good use of time to themselves. They don’t feel compelled to be with people and to interact with others constantly, the way that extroverts are prone to do. Usually when people describe a person as extroverted, they want to convey the image of someone who is dynamic and outgoing, someone who is forceful and animated when speaking to a group, someone whose presence exudes energy and confidence. In this sense “extrovert” is the opposite of a quiet, passive personality. But introverts (psychologically speaking) are fully capable of being energetic, dynamic, and outgoing. Many of the most accomplished actors and political figures in history have been pronounced introverts.
According to a recent study by Entrepreneur Magazine:
The myth that introverts are less effective leaders than their extroverted brethren is just that. Leverage your personality strengths to lead your business no matter what side of the spectrum you fall on.
From a psychological viewpoint, the primary difference between extroverts and introverts is determined by the way that they recharge when their emotional batteries run down. Extroverts recharge by surrounding themselves with people, often in settings which involve tons of activity. Introverts, however, recharge by pursuing quieter activities (such as reading or taking a long walk). And they pursue this activity either alone or at most with only a handful of people. Why these contrasting approaches? Because heavy interaction with people has opposite effects on extroverts and introverts. For extroverts prolonged interaction with people is a net energy gain. For introverts it’s a net energy drain.
So extroverts recharge by putting themselves in a crowd of people, where there are constant opportunities for interaction. Introverts recharge by getting away from people.
This creates the challenge for introverts as leaders. Introverted business leadership is a decidedly interactive, interpersonal process. As a business owner, you may manage behind a closed door. But you can’t lead from there. Leadership by its very nature demands constant involvement with people. But when the demands get heavy, when the going gets tough, when the pace is exhausting, introverts are sorely tempted to withdraw, to go into a self-imposed isolation to re-energize. Without even realizing it, they may slip into subtle work patterns that signal disengagement from their people.
In fact, introverts must purposefully choose to stay engaged in the leadership process, even when their natural inclination is to hole up and recharge. It’s a choice that effective introverted leaders have made for eons. But it means going against the way that introverts are wired.
The starting point for introverted leaders is thus to come to recognize their introverted nature and acknowledge it. They must accept that their introversion will often nudge them in directions that are not conducive to good leadership practices.
Does this mean that introverts must forego the opportunity to recharge? Not at all. Everyone must recharge. Those with introverted business leadership must simply find ways to do so at times when their leadership responsibilities are not at the forefront.