Extroverts get all the attention (probably because they both crave it and work hard for it) – but are they better leaders? Not necessarily – and I don’t just say that because I’m an introvert. I happen to love extroverts; I count many extroverted leaders among my successful investments that show thriving and even unicorn growth. I’m also married to a highly extroverted and talented person. My point is that, while extroverts can be natural and impactful leaders, introverts can too.
Introvertedness is largely misunderstood. It’s not shyness, it’s not social anxiety – it’s more of a tendency to focus on internal stimuli versus external stimuli. Introverts (25-40% of the population) tend to turn inwards, to take time to process internally through thinking, making a quick call, or speaking off the cuff as an extrovert may prefer to do. Recently, I shared some of my favorite books for founders – if I were to create a sub-list for introverted founders, I’d include Quiet by Susan Cain, an in-depth examination of the incredible contributions introverts have made to society and how much we stand to lose by undervaluing them.
Science agrees that introverts are better at leading complex and unpredictable settings. This doesn’t apply to every leader and every introvert in every situation, but, in my experience, introverted leaders can demonstrate some critical leadership skills that are often overlooked. Here are 5.
5 Ways Introverts Make Strong Leaders of Companies
1. Introverts can stand alone.
In some ways, my rebel nature and my introverted nature go hand-in-hand. I’m not afraid to stand alone in part because, as an introvert, I am energized by solitude. In fact, I find people more than a little exhausting. Taking time alone to process, think creatively, and problem solve makes me more sure of my decisions and increases my confidence in my chosen path – which makes it easier to stand my ground when others don’t agree.
2. Introverts make thoughtful decisions
When’s the last time you regretted a snap decision? Sometimes they work out, but oftentimes working too fast just leads to regret. When you’re moving fast, you’re usually reacting emotionally. Because introverts use the time for reflection to fully work through their thoughts, they’re less likely to make impulsive decisions as leaders.
I talk a lot about trusting your gut. You can’t do that if you don’t give yourself the time and space to listen.
3. Introverted leaders are good listeners
Listening is a critical skill for leaders and one that comes naturally to introverted leaders. Too many people aren’t listening – they’re thinking about what they’re going to say or they’re twenty steps ahead into an action plan. Listening isn’t just about the words that are being said – there are hidden implications in tone, thoughts, feelings, experience, that can be picked up on if you are paying attention. Employees feel heard and respected when you take the time to listen and reflect before responding. Being a good listener is also something investors look for in an entrepreneur
4. Introverted leaders go deep.
I’m not distracted by shiny objects. When it comes to free time, I love trying new things and pushing the boundaries of adventure for myself, but when it comes to my passions and investment decisions: I am relentless, driven, and focused in my approach. That’s why I focus on technology and drill down further to specific niches where I see tech that solves legacy problems.
This is a common trait I have noticed in introverted leaders. Where their interests and skills may be incredibly broad and varied, they know how to hone in and lockdown on what matters most.
5. Introverted leaders don’t settle.
And they let others shine. Introverted brains are wired differently (our dopamine reward network is less active than in the extroverted brain) making us less likely to work for recognition or professional advancement. Instead, introverted leaders are motivated by the satisfaction that comes with an aligned and productive team creating high-quality output.
This means that we aren’t as likely to be swayed to make a decision for external approval or recognition. When you spend time with a decision and truly listen to the brilliant minds around you, you get an innate sense when something seems too good to be true, or that a product just isn’t ready to hit the market. Introverted leaders are driven to focus on quality and are less likely to move forward on something that the full team doesn’t believe in.
Alone, never lonely.
Quiet leadership is critical to a company’s success. I’m a firm believer in the quiet power of introverts and that our calm, inclusive approach to leadership can make companies more successful and change the world for the better. Are you an introverted founder with a world-changing tech solution? Reach out to me through this low-pressure contact form (because, introverts).
Enjoy the ride.