The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
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Aggressive. Assertive. Dynamic. These are the essential qualities of a successful leader, right? In other words, to thrive in the workplace, you have to be an extrovert, correct?
Well, not necessarily. In fact, there are lots of qualities that business leaders may need which are more in line with the introverted personality type. Unfortunately, though, the importance of the introvert in the workplace has often gone unrecognized. And yet, with a bit of support and understanding, introverts can be both highly successful professionals and particularly effective leaders.
But what, exactly, is the role of the introvert in the workplace?
One of the strongest attributes of the introverted personality type is their deeply introspective and analytical nature. Introverts may seem aloof and detached, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Introverts like to stay on the ball. They like to be attuned to their environment and the people around them. In part, this is due to the often anxious nature of the introvert, but it is also an aspect of the introvert’s curious, agile, and alert mind.
That means that if you are looking for a sound, thoughtful business strategy, if you need solutions to a vexing problem, or if you need to know how to rationally resolve a crisis or lead a team through it, then your best bet may well be to look to the introvert.
They may not assert themselves to volunteer an answer, and they may reject being put on the spot in the midst of a crowd, but give them the space and the right conditions and they can dazzle you with their actionable insights. You might, for instance, ask your introverted employees to present their suggestions and comments in writing, often the most comfortable and effective form of communication for this personality type. Likewise, if you’re planning a business meeting, providing a meeting agenda ahead of time can enable your introverted employee to consider the meeting topics and plan their remarks ahead of time, which may incentivize them to speak up rather than remain silent.
Introverts may be the last to speak in business meetings. They may be impossible to extricate from the corner during office parties. However, in their own way, introverts can be the ultimate people-persons, and that can make them profoundly effective business leaders.
Introverts are inherently observant. They’re people-watchers, and their intrinsically thoughtful nature also makes them wonderful listeners who are also deeply empathetic.
To be sure, they’re not likely to rule with an iron fist. If you’re looking for a boisterous (or authoritarian) leadership style, then the introvert isn’t the manager for you. But if you want someone who can build strong one-on-one relationships and who is likely to excel using their talent for empathy, introspection, and analysis, then the introverted leader may be precisely what you are looking for.
There’s no question that the world of work is changing. Now, more than ever, employers find themselves choosing, by necessity or by preference, to allow for at least some measure of remote work. This can help minimize disruptions in times of crisis, as during the recent pandemic-related lockdowns.
Introverts often need a calm, quiet, and largely secluded workspace to thrive. They also often need frequent opportunities to rest, recenter, and recharge.
This means that introverts often thrive in the remote work environment. Thus, if you are looking to expand your hybrid or fully remote workforce to reduce overhead or simply mitigate the risk of potential disruptions to the operation of the physical office, then your more introverted employees should probably be your first choice.
The key, though, is to not allow your remote workers to become entirely isolated. While introverted workers may enjoy and excel in secluded environments, they still will need to feel that their contributions are recognized and valued, even when working remotely. Offering opportunities for peer recognition and acknowledging achievements and milestones through gifts, bonuses, and public praise during in-person or virtual meetings can help to motivate introverted employees working remotely, while also minimizing the anxiety that many naturally feel due to their deeply conscientious personality type.
When we think of success in the business world, we don’t often think of the introverted personality type. But the reality is that introverts play a very important role in the workplace and, in fact, introverts often possess attributes that make them ideally suited for leadership roles. Introverts are empathetic, analytical, and introspective. That means you’re getting an employee who is thoughtful, deliberate, and insightful — all key traits contributing to professional excellence!