By now I gather most of us have figured out if they are an introvert or an extrovert right? If not, there is no shortage of online personality tests and questionnaires to help you determine that.
I knew from an early age that I was a shy kid. Being an adult now, I believe that being shy at a young age is how young introverts start out in many cases. A characteristic of my introvert tendencies was that I didn’t want to be the center of attention or have all eyes on me. It was certainly an inconvenience at times.
One of those times was when I made the city spelling bee. The first word was given and there I stood. Frozen. It was all because of that darn red light on the camera. Knowing and accepting that I would appear on tv at some point for my friends to see was just too much to overcome for this unconfident tween.
I didn’t allow my shyness to be the showstopper in my business career.
Instead, I embraced it. I knew all the ins and outs of the printing company so my confidence was high. I combined my confidence, knowledge and introverted tendencies to become a well-rounded business owner and co-worker. Because of this, I could work in a variety of roles: customer service, delivery, bindery, and sales.
Running a business was something I grew up dreaming about and practicing through role play. I had a lot of experience pretending to be in businesses as a young child. A Grocery store, restaurant, printing company (of course), and one of my favorites was my bank drive-thru using the bay window at my childhood home.
As I grew older, I bought into the myth that my introverted tendencies would be a handicap in the business world. I thought I needed to be outgoing, social and unreserved to reach my full potential in a business setting. I would often worry that individuals would misinterpret my reluctance to engage as arrogance. I didn’t mind being around people so much as I preferred to be in a casual setting with a small group and talk more one on one.
After years of working in the family business, I believe that I was groomed to lead. I would make decisions promptly based on years of practice, experience, and gut intuition. Experiencing different situations and people equipped me with the tools and knowledge to run a successful business.
Thankfully, with education, experience, and maturity I have recognized that it is not the whole story. I have learned through my own experiences and the research of others that introverts can and do make great leaders.
Introverts in leadership roles tend to rely on their ability to listen, observe and build relationships. Through knowing my strengths and intentionally working on my weaknesses I can navigate any situation I find myself in.
Introverts often require downtime to recharge
This is now an essential part of my weekly routine. I will carve out quiet time where I can rebuild my creativity and energy. I firmly believe this enables me to focus on three key areas of leadership: listening, emotional intelligence, and thoughtfulness. When I am working with a team of committed individuals I am motivated to support them 100% and give all that I can offer.
What do you do to recharge?
If you are an introvert leader at the beginning of your career, don’t buy-in to what is said about an introvert’s effectiveness. It may take us a bit longer to get there but once we are there we have skill sets that prepare us to make a big impact.
I’d love to hear from fellow introvert leaders on how they have embraced this natural personality trait and how you have thrived, struggled and overcame.
“Introverts are more effective leaders of proactive employees. When you have a creative, energetic workforce, an introvert is going to draw out that energy better.” Laurie Helgoe