Introverts are loners by definition. They enjoy their own company and the silence of an empty room without others to cloud their thoughts. But what happens when an introvert comes from an executive or project management position? How can a reserved and anxious person possibly hold up in the face of tight deadlines and co-worker expectations?
While introverted leaders are few and far in-between, they are not so uncommon in the corporate sphere, mainly because of their characteristic behavior and people skills. So how can an introverted team leader actually inspire their team and be the leader they have the potential to be?
One of the many reasons that CEO’s and executives all over the world trust introverts with their projects is the fact that introverts listen carefully. Talking and taking the initiative isn’t something introverts are known for, just like you would imagine – they are good at listening and detecting the changes in their partners’ voices.
For them, talking comes later down the line, when they have listened and processed everything the other person has to say. The reason for this is that introverts don’t like to be in the spotlight for longer than necessary. If they let others talk first and then have the final word, their authority has a resonance that very few character types can match.
Introverts don’t spend time barking orders at others and discussing what can be done before consulting themselves. This type of character loves to interact with itself, often spending hours on end sitting on the chair, thinking about what to do next.
They don’t like to rush decisions and speak before thinking carefully – they know that their anxiety won’t let them stay active for long. This is one of the reasons why introverts are such good advisors and coordinators – their ability to stay quiet and observe is an essential tool in the corporate world, even though they are less social than others in the office.
Shinning when it matters
While introverts are considered to be frightened by others and very hard to find when you need them, they have the ability to be there when it’s needed the most. They don’t treat their friends and co-workers badly even though they themselves might be subject to whispers and gossip. They would never turn their backs on a colleague or work that needs to be done, meaning that they will step up at the last moment when it matters the most.
This is one of the instances where well-coordinated and planned out leadership intervention can make huge differences in the project flow, making introverts essential to the task. Once the crisis is averted and the work is done, an introvert will go back to their natural self and observe the workflow, doing their best to inspire and boost productivity.
Leaving the comfort zone
Some would argue that being an introvert is a life-long trait and that people should embrace who they are and use it to their advantage. Others believe that introverts are going through a development phase and one day, they will leave their comfort zones for good, without ever becoming introverted again.
While it comes down to personal experience and character traits, most introverts do end up introverts for the rest of their lives – and that’s totally okay. No matter what anyone says, having someone who is reserved, calm and thinks carefully about what they are doing is an important aspect of leading a firm or a company. The corporate lifestyle can change an introvert’s perspective on life drastically and make them more aware of their own abilities but it will often make them learn how to control their anxiety and fear rather than eliminate it entirely.
Writing down ideas
The strength of an introvert comes from their ability to shut off external distractions and focus on what matters the most – getting work done in time. Writing down ideas and brainstorming is one of the biggest strengths that introverts possess. It allows them to be creative and solve problems without people constantly talking to them or asking them for additional work or directions.
Once the project is set in motion and the jobs have been delegated, an introvert can take the bulk of the creative work and act as a coach and a coordinator for the rest of the project team. Introverts are known for taking their work home and as such, leaders who are also introverted are likely going to be loved by their coworkers for being so passionate and dedicated to the company community.
While the word doesn’t really roll off the tongue, being connected with their coworkers is an introvert’s number one priority. As we all know, getting anything done with people you can’t stand and have conflicts with will lead nowhere, often resulting in failed projects or redirection to another team. Introverted leaders don’t allow these things to happen and act before anything can lead to a fracture of the team.
They are naturally born coaches and having a one-on-one talk with your introverted team leader can have a huge impact on what you do moving on. They are not afraid of giving you feedback based on what they have seen so far and will always confront you with a problem they have when your work is concerned. Being interconnected and cohesive as a team is something that comes very naturally for introverts in executive and management positions.
Preparing backup plans
Damage control is something that introverts take very seriously when it comes to their own responsibility. Once they are put in a management position, they devise backup plans and crisis management that can avert bad situations as soon as they happen.
The reason for this is that most introverts are completely aware of their character traits and they accept them as they are. They know that getting an executive position was a Herculean effort and that they won’t get the same treatment twice. Showing their own bosses that they are ready and capable of handling stressful tasks is what they want to do the most. Naturally, this makes them the perfect candidates for leadership positions since leadership isn’t just about giving orders and waiting for others to finish all the work.
It’s not uncommon to walk into a meeting with an introvert and be presented with a plethora of data, analysis, history, and plans of action. The reason for this is similar to the previous one – introverts want to prove that they are as capable as extroverts at handling stressful, social situations.
Preparing meetings is another matter, however, allowing them to sit down with themselves and go through all the data and information before being pushed into confronting another person and discussing it openly. It allows them to prepare for every question and project direction, meaning that they can rarely get caught off guard. As such, these people are born to lead projects and coordinate tasks based on research and personal dedication, one that can hardly be matched by any other character type.
Everyone knows that introverted people make for some of the best friends in the world. Once an introvert gets comfortable with you, they would never betray your trust and will always be there for you. So imagine what that character profile can do if they are close to their team and dedicated to the project they are entrusted with?
Team building is something that comes very naturally to introverted leaders. They are prone to taking their teams out for dinner, playing a board game together or doing some karaoke. While these tasks seem irrelevant, an introvert will likely make them look that way and actually count them as team building exercises that build the team’s spirit and energy, all while bringing them closer together. If a team is synchronized and full of energy, there is no project that they can’t tackle. It all comes down to their introverted leader who thought up a couple of building exercises for the group to handle together.
Honesty and trust
Trusting your coworkers is important, especially if your own work depends on their own productivity and energy. That is why establishing trust and honesty in the team is easy for introverts who consider their team members a family.
While breaking an introvert’s trust can be devastating and even lead to a complete change of members in the team, it doesn’t happen as often, mainly because everyone wants to do their jobs and go home happy. An introvert helps in this situation even more by not only working on a mutually-beneficial project but also emphasizing mutual honesty and job delegation that encourages equality.
They will never give someone a job they can’t handle and even take most of the work for themselves. As such, introverted leaders are some of the most trusted project managers out there.
Even though it takes some time to get an introvert ready for an executive leadership position, it’s still a very beneficial prospect. While some executives prefer working with open and extroverted people, having specialized experts that don’t like the spotlight is just as important. If you are an introvert yourself, start working on expanding your comfort zone one step at a time. The right leadership opportunity will find you and your moment to shine will come soon after.