Introverts rarely find themselves in leadership roles. Yet, businesses are beginning to recognize the subtle leadership powers of those in their organizations who are ‘inner-focused’. If you are an introvert in a management or other leadership position in your organization there are 3 important things to do every day.
Implement your ability to contemplate. Introverts are known for being inwardly focused. They spend a great deal of time inside their own minds thinking, judging and working through different decision scenarios. This ability to contemplate a variety of event paths and outcomes based on different decisions is extremely valuable in a leadership role.
Introverts are also hesitant to make knee-jerk decisions even when the appropriate course of action seems obvious. Again, this self-modulation can be a powerful tool in making well-considered decisions. It is important to remember, though, that there are times when quick, on-the-spot decision-making is required. Introvert leaders must recognize those situations where it’s appropriate.
Appreciate your emotional control. Not known for emotional outbursts or verbosity, introverts generally keep their emotions under tight control. Great leaders are known for their emotional control. Tiger Woods famously said, “I think the guys who are controlling their emotions … are going to win.” Author Marya Mannes understood the value of emotional control when she said, “The sign of intelligent people is their ability to control emotions by the application of reason.”
To those being managed, a leader with out-of-control emotions is frightening and disappointing. Harsh criticisms, caustic emails, and regretful accusations are the usual results of a lack of emotional control. Leaders who are lacking in self-control can do great harm to their organizations. Introverts have a natural inclination to think first, act second, giving them an edge in employee relations and organizational behavior. They should, however, not hesitate to reprimand an employee or demand accountability on-the-spot when necessary.
Deploy your strategic thinking. Introverts have an innate ability to “see the whole” all around them. Some call this ability “big picture thinking.” The preferred term is strategic thinking, however. What this skill means is that, generally, introverts are able to see how things work together to form a whole. This cognitive process allows an introvert to understand and project cause-and-effect. In business leadership, this is a critically important skill. Masterfully developing and executing strategy are the hallmarks of great leadership.
Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general born in 512 BC, master strategist, and author of The Art of War said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” Introverts, intuitively and instinctively, continually assess strategy as part of their normal state-of-being. But introverts are cautioned to avoid spending so much time on developing strategy that they miss opportunities to act.
Introverts possess unique and valuable skills as leaders. When organizations allow them to deploy those skills, business success can be achieved in new and different ways. Employee satisfaction can also be raised to new levels. Though historically untapped, the strengths of introvert leaders are becoming recognized and businesses are seeing those benefits manifested in accelerated growth.