You seem calm, cool and collected. People think you are either very wise or completely oblivious to what is going on around you. We both know you aren’t oblivious – being an introvert, this is just your natural style of interacting. Since Introverts think before they speak, most Introverted leaders aren’t usually the first to speak up in group situations. Probably the biggest complaint your team has is that they don’t always know what you are thinking or they aren’t sure how you feel about a situation.
By the way, if you are an introverted leader, you have been set up. Set up by the extroverts that immediately say whatever is on their mind and are quick to offer feedback. Our society has been conditioned to associate immediate feedback with successful leadership, despite the fact that there is truly no correlation. Our society values the fast talker, the first to speak, the one holding court at the front of the room, but this point of view is overlooking the powerful gifts an Introverted Leader has to offer…your secret powers, if you will.
To begin with, your leadership style can be more empathetic than your extroverted counterparts, because introverts are inherently good listeners. Since you aren’t one to jump in and interrupt, people feel “heard.” Often people will comment that you really seem interested in understanding their point of view. Who doesn’t like someone that will listen to all of the “noise” that can happen for the employee?
You can also be relied on to provide well thought-out responses. Not many off-the-cuff comments coming from you. Your ability to think things through before you deliver any news to the group is one of your true strengths. Being able to filter the information and provide the appropriate comment is comforting and can calm the biggest of storms.
Your need for a little time to reflect and think through a situation lends itself to honoring the time others need as well. Not demanding immediate feedback and giving others the space to process their own thoughts is welcomed by the other Introverts you serve.
But be careful, all of the amazing patience you seem to posses can actually back-fire as well. Not providing immediate feedback can end up looking like you are withholding essential information from the team. If you have an insecure employee who is fretting over your thoughts and reduced feedback, you may have a potential problem. What might seem obvious to you (or no one’s business) might be keeping employees up at night. There is certainly a balance to the dissemination of information. Too much is an over-share but too little leaves too much room for people to make up their own story and that can be dangerous at best.
To help alleviate these issues, consider acknowledging your process to your team. Let them know that you will get back to them and offer a time line, instead of leaving them hanging. They will appreciate it and be less likely to start pushing for a response.
What are some of the other advantages you see for introverted leaders?