How Does an Introvert Become an Effective Leader?

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Can an introvert be an effective leader?

An introvert leader?

This question has kept me awake quite a few times as I wonder – What makes an effective leader? In some ways, I have been a bit jealous of the extroverts. Their ability to be around with more people, stand on the stage, convey their ideas and appear fearless seemed pretty amazing.

I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that I even tried to bully myself into believing that being an extrovert was the best way to develop leadership. I even tried to embody a few of those skills and argued with myself that it was possible to change it. I was convinced that being an introvert isn’t great if you want to do amazing things in life. I even wrote some naive articles about how an introvert can become an extrovert – ergo all problems in life will be solved.

But, what about the qualities of an extrovert needed to be a leader?

After having fought with myself with this idea for more than a few years, I feel a bit sensible to say that I’m an introvert and am proud about it. I don’t want to change that any more. It means something else. It means I gain my energy, solace and passion when I am with myself, in quiet time and silence.

This doesn’t mean that I cannot be in crowds – it means that its not my natural preference. It also means that I can enjoy being amongst people, but I need to balance it. The balance is through an adequate amount of ‘ME’ time. 

It also means that I can go out on the stage, make presentations or what not. It also means I can be great at it, but I need to create a balance. Better training, preparation and some practice.

It means I can be out there in loud places, be absolutely charming and make an impact. But I do need to recover from all the energy that goes into making this happen.

What is this balance?

It has taken me quite a while to understand what this balance means. Sometimes, it means a nice long walk, other times it means music, then a jog, some exercise. I realise that there is more than one way of regaining my energy source and achieving that balance. You see, as an introvert – one of the greatest strengths is in listening to people and listening to your own thoughts.

I don’t mean to say that extroverts cannot do it.I mean to say that some things come naturally to an introvert and they are amazing at it. The amount of perception is great, listening beyond what people say is a brilliant skill.

The trick?

I suppose, the real answer is in digging deep and understanding that the words Extroverts/Introverts don’t mean to define who you are as a person. It only means to ask what your natural inclination is. Our behaviours, expressions, thoughts can be trained. We can teach ourselves what to do and how to make a strong impact.

That is what leaders do right? You don’t always have to talk a lot to convey your vision; you don’t always have to stay quiet because people are an amazing source of passion and love. The real joy is in a combination of characteristics. The answer is in finding the tailor fit which makes most sense to you.

So, for the question – Can an introvert be an effective leader, the answer is YES! Most certainly, a YES. It is about finding the most effective way for you to work. If you need a snapshot of some of the most successful introvert leaders, here you are with a nice list .

Snippets from the experiences

1) Introvert in Networking Events

  1. Introvert at networking, networking and introverts, power of introverts, introvert
    Networking events and an introvert?

These have been a tremendous influence on me over the last couple of years.

I have liked my stint of being with myself, overseeing a situation, listening to people, understanding them better.

I am amazed to know what drives them, their passions, source of energy.

I am also amazed how energetic they are talking about themselves.

More importantly, how incredible it feels just to meet new people and know them better.

At the same time,

I have been very cautious when I talk about myself.

I tend to keep my discussions fairly small.

I sometimes wonder what they might be thinking about me?

In short, I think a lot more than I talk. This was brilliant, but I wasn’t giving out enough information to build a conversation based on it. A beautiful thing I understand about networking is the willingness to open ourselves up a little better, talk about our passions, desires and more importantly STORIES

I found that people are as interested about our lives as we are about theirs.

It is a true give and take – the more you give, more stories you share – you have a better shot at gaining relationships. After all, as an introvert, the greatest strength is in listening and identifying relevant stories. Why not capitalise on that?

Care to weigh in?

PS: I am still very much in the learning phases of networking. I would love to hear what the experts say 🙂

7 thoughts on “How Does an Introvert Become an Effective Leader?

  1. Love this article, Vinay! I am an introvert too and I had tried all that you mentioned and succeeded to come out as an ambivert! It was an amazing experience. Yes, i do re energize myself when I am with me.

    I have something to ask. What are your thoughts about individual and team players? How about the managerial skills? Do you think these qualities are related to the introvert/extrovert nature? Eager to know your thoughts.

    1. Thank you Sindhu. It is a very strong feeling to be able to know who we are, where our sources of energy come from and to know that we are in control. I suppose it is all about bringing out the best we can about ourselves and making an impact which can last.

      I must say it is a very intriguing question. Personally I would find it very hard to identify an individual or a team player based on their introverted or extroverted characteristics. I think it is more to do with their motivations and what they want to do with their career. If someone wants to be an individual performer and an extrovert, there is enough opportunities for them to energise themselves by meeting others, just knowing what other members are doing and understand their role even better. If someone wants to be a manager, then it is also about assimilating different things together. I believe an extrovert/introvert is just a source of energy and as long as we know where we can find it, we should be able to pull off the role of either a manager or an individual performer at ease.

      I guess it all comes back to what motivates us the most and what do we really want to be.

      1. True that an understanding of what we are is the most important thing. You have very neatly explained that introverts have all the possibility to be successful. An introvert’s words would definitely impact introverts. Thank you for your time!

  2. Couldnt have agreed with you more Vinay. I have been an Introvert (with a capital I) all my life and whenever I challenged myself, I have ended up feeling extremely uncomfortable. I feel lost in crowds and social gatherings scare me literally. However, leadership comes naturally to me and does not seem to conflict with my introvert nature. In fact, I have a profession where I need to stand up and speak at all times. Interestingly, I feel at home there too. But when off stage, I choose the last corner seat and sit there quietly . Happy being an introvert and preparing for my next brief “extrovert” stint.

    1. Introvert with a capital “I”. I like that Deepali. It is very nice to hear your point of view and experience on this. I think there is a general misunderstanding of introverts around. Many a time I have gotten into a conversation wherein I try to define/defend what an ‘Introvert’ is – sometimes to other people; A lot of times to myself. I think there is a beauty in understanding who we are and what makes us tick. And if it is about gaining the energy from being with ourselves, that’s a wonderful way isn’t it? After all, it is a tremendous source of power and knowing that it is within us is an incredible feeling indeed.

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