Introverts are often overwhelmed by the demands of the workplace. Their jobs often require them to spend more time serving customers and working with their coworkers than they would like. This has led many people to believe that introverted coworkers lack the people skills to be effective in the workplace. However, this is simply not true. Many of the best communicators and leaders are introverts. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Douglas Conant.
Introverted Leaders Have Advantages
My father is an introverted manager who oversees several hundred people on a daily basis. He has received numerous commendations for his work and has lasted in his position much longer than his predecessors. I am much more extroverted than him, but I was not half the leader he was when I worked as a project manager. I feel that he isn’t as focused on impressing people and getting the approval of his subordinates as I was, which allows him to focus more of his energy on getting results.
You don’t need to be intimidated when your boss offers you a job. Many introverts feel that they won’t be able to live up to the expectations that will be placed on them, but that is probably because they are giving themselves negative feedback. You just need to know what your managerial responsibilities will entail and understand what your role will be.
Ray Williams, author of Breaking Bad Habits, wrote a piece in Psychology Today where he discussed the need to move towards more introverted leaders. Williams said that our culture has been overly focused on filling managerial roles with assertive and commanding leaders. He said that the stereotypical extroverted manager may not be what we should strive for.
Leaders Fare Best With their Opposites
Some of the most effective leaders in the country are introverts who manage a very diverse workforce. Douglas R. Conant, CEO of Campbell Soup Company, wrote a piece in Harvard Business Review where he talked about his role as a leader of a Fortune 500 company. Conant has said that introverts can be great leaders, but they need to accept that they will need time alone to unwind and take advantage of familiar situations.
Many employees are very independent and energetic. These employees will ironically feel more comfortable when they are with a more introverted leader. Employees will usually feel more comfortable working with someone who comes across as more down to earth and compassionate, rather than a manager they need to compete with. A study Williams and his coauthor conducted found that proactive teams are more successful under the direction of an introverted leader.
That isn’t to say that extroverted leaders don’t have their place as well. Williams’s study also found that extroverted leaders are more likely to achieve results when the team members lack direction and need more guidance to reach their goals.
Approximately 75% of the population is extroverted, but about 96% of managers are extroverts. This shows that many organizations are not matching their team with the right manager. However, many organizations are starting to realize this error and adapt accordingly.
Are you an introverted manager? What has your experience been like? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
About the Author:
Kalen is a business and education writer. He talks about the benefits of a masters of organizational leadership and similar topics.
Photo Credit: By Morris (Sgt), No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit Post-Work: User:W.wolny [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons