Hello SOTGC community,
“When Jongintaba had meetings in his court, the men gathered in a circle, and only after all had spoken did the king begin to speak. The chief’s job, Mandela said, was not to tell people what to do but to form a consensus. Don’t enter the debate too early, [Jongintaba] used to say…The trick of leadership is allowing yourself to be led too. It is wise, he said, to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.” ~Nelson Mandela, on the tribal king who raised him
Growing up, I was the child who hid behind my mother’s skirt when strangers introduced themselves. I was terrified to answer our home phone, and dreaded the first day of school when I would have to meet new children. My mother, an extrovert, was an anomaly to me. Vivacious, loud, and obstreperous she took over a room when she entered and was always the unopposed group leader. This was my view on leadership during my formative years. Though I learned how to fake a more boisterous personality by watching my mother, I still require alone time to recharge and large groups exhaust me after a long period of time. After learning what I could by watching my mother, knowing that my learned extrovert tactics were forced, I assumed that if your personality was quiet and calm that no one would want to follow you. I assumed wrong.
When you think of a great leader, who comes to mind? There are many great extrovert leaders: Pope John Paul II, Margaret Thatcher, Sheryl Sandberg. These are the people we think of as having a traditional “leadership” personality. However, the number of great introvert leaders is just as abundant: Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama to name a few. Each of these introvert leaders have their own special characteristics and unique leadership style.
The first step is to know if you are you an extrovert or an introvert. If you have never taken the Meyers Briggs online personality test, take it today! It is a free online test, 60 questions, and it will give insight into your personality: http://www.freepersonalitytest.info/index.php. It can also help you understand areas for improvement. Additionally, it makes great cocktail conversation. I’m an “INTJ” in case you were wondering! Once you know your personality profile, you can find great examples of leaders who also have your personality type. This is helpful in developing your own leadership style.
If you are an introvert, then there are many resources to help you to hone your skills. In Simon T. Bailey’s article Why Introverts are More Effective Leaders than Extroverts, he describes three key reasons why introverted leaders are naturally equipped to handle the job:
1. Introverts listen more than they talk. In a situation where everyone is trying to speak, like Mandela, an introvert will carefully listen to all and then develop a mutual common decision. The calm, collected introvert personality conveys an air of confidence and though they speak less than extroverts, people listen to their well thought out ideas.
2. Introverts are prepared. Whereas an extrovert will burst with 5-6 ideas, of which only one may be effective, and introvert has taken the time to study all aspects of a problem. The introvert will bring one solid idea to the table which has been well researched.
3. An Introvert requires solitude. Introverts get their energy from alone time. During this time, and introvert can gather their thoughts and mull over ideas which extroverts may not have time to consider. They can take time to develop tactics and plans. This gives them a strategic advantage in planning and goal setting.
Are you a wildly successful introverted leader? What experiences can you share with others to help them develop a positive introvert leadership style? Continue the conversation with me on Twitter @ryangreenonline and Facebook.