How to Thrive as an Introverted Self-Leader and Entrepreneur
February 24, 2016
TopicsEntrepreneurship, Extrovert, Introvert, Leadership
Have you ever heard the assertion that introverts do not make good leaders? While this may be a common observation, it is unfortunately one that is based on fundamental misunderstandings and the inaccurate perception of introverts as being shy, unfeeling and indecisive to the point of paralysis.
In fact, Forbes has reported that a staggering 40% of executives actively describe themselves as being introverted, including über-investors Warren Buffet and Charles Schwab, publishing legend Katharine Graham and the renowned founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates.
3 Steps to thrive as an introverted self-leader and Entrepreneur
While these individuals should serve as inspiration to introverted self-leaders and solo entrepreneurs, the key point is that this demographic understands the steps required to thrive in a business world well-populated with extroverts. I have listed three important considerations below, highlighting the advantages that introverts have and how they can use them to achieve their leadership goals.
Use your self-reflective traits and analytical skills to capitalise on Gaps in the Market
As a general rule, introverts are self-reflective individuals who are extremely self-aware. They also have keen analytical minds, and these attributes combine to create a thoughtful leader who listens to feedback in bids to make informed decisions.
While this thoughtfulness and willingness to process information enables introverted leaders to consider decisions from multiple angles, it also makes them sensitive to potentially lucrative market trends. This is a huge advantage (especially in competitive markets), as it helps you to recognize opportunities early and create an appropriate strategy to capitalize.
This is the type of responsiveness and analytical thinking that enables bespoke bicycle makers to thrive in the UK in the wake of the Olympics, as the value of British cycling industry exceeded £2 billion and saturated the market with mass-produced models. This created a demand for more unique products that only insightful and introspective entrepreneurs could fill.
Use Subtle Humor to Engage employees (and potentially clients)
When you think of leadership, your thoughts may be initially drawn to the type of charismatic and charming individuals portrayed in film and media. While this should detract from the quality of introverts as leaders, it does highlight an issue in terms of how these inner-focused individuals address the perception of them as being standoffish and entirely unengaging.
If you are attempting to inspire others as a self-leader or introverted entrepreneur, you should therefore consider using humor to bridge this gap and effectively engage others. Projecting a positive, smiling persona can have a huge impact on employee morale, for example, while organic and unforced fun also help to motivate and creative progressive energy within your venture.
As an introvert, you may also want to play to your strengths and occasionally use self-depreciating humor to connect with others.
Use your Open Mind to drive successful Recruitment Campaigns
We have already touched on the fact that introverts are innately thoughtful individuals, who are inspired by open minds that are uninhibited by emotional values such as greed, conceit and jealously. This is an attribute that can be used to benefit every single aspect of your business, but particularly during the process of identifying and recruiting top industry talent.
This is actually a weakness for extroverted leaders, who are typically insecure and competitive individuals who can begin to feel threatened by talented employees. In contrast, as an introverted leader you can impose a culture of personal development within your firm, which enables you to employ exceptional talent that challenges every single individual to continually improve their performance.
This includes yourself, as you enable your employees to become better than you and lay down the gauntlet for further development.
These three steps will help you to succeed as an introverted self-leader or entrepreneur, without forcing you to compromise on the core attributes that make you unique.
Hi, Lewis … Great post on a subject near and dear to this introvert’s heart:).
Quick observation: I am probably one of the most outgoing introverts many people run into … my career has repeatedly thrust me into positions where speaking to, directing, and facilitating large groups is one of my 10,000 hours skills. HOwever, in true introvert fashion, I disappear regularly to recharge and am extremely happy to spend entire days or longer periods amusing myself quite well:)
I think introverts bring much to leadership roles, but here are my three nominations for the most important introvert skills:
1) Ability to have those quieter, one-on-one conversations that create and nurture relationships.
2) Ability to step out (or even avoid) the spotlight without feeling a sense of loss, while being comfortable with letting others enter that spotlight. This speaks to your point about extroverts who might be threatened by this very thing.
3) Thoughtfulness and mindfulness of the world around them, noticing things and seeing connections that others might miss. I guess this is the same as your first point about analytic ability and connecting the dots.
All in all, a very useful post – thanks!