Introvert CEO: 3 Keys to Leadership Success

You're an introvert who's just been named CEO.  You know what got you to this point successfully, but you also know that 40% of CEOs last no more than two years in office.

You're wondering if the approach you brilliantly used to reach the top as an introvert will be the most effective one now that you're at the top.

A CEO's Introversion-Extroversion Balance

To advance to this point you were likely required to tap into your extroversion increasingly during your career.  You had to get outside your comfort zone in order to gain visibility in the organization, get your ideas heard, and motivate others to action.

The brilliant truth is that now, as CEO, your greatest strength comes from within you.  Your introverted world of vision and ideas will empower you to move your company forward.  Now, more than ever, it will be imperative for you to tap into your quiet strengths to motivate your teams, communicate inspiringly, make critical decisions, and to develop and nurture strong relationships.

3 Keys to Leadership Success

1.  Motivate others to pursue your vision

In order to reach the top spot you had to motivate your teams along the way.  Now, you're not only motivating them to implement strategies, you're motivating them to bring your vision for the organization to life.

This is a dramatic difference.

Motivate and communicate by leading from within

As an introvert, this is where your ability to lead from within you becomes your Herculean strength.  You are naturally energized by your vision and by your illuminating ideas for bringing it to life.  Additionally, because introverts are so comfortable with the world of ideas and images, they make great storytellers.

When you tap into your extroversion to communicate your vision and ideas, you will be fueled by your inner energy for them.  And stories will help you take your employees on an emotional journey with you to understand and embrace your vision.

Bottom line: It's imperative to get out of your comfort zone to be fully present with your team in order to successfully communicate.  However, your power to inspire and motivate comes from tapping into the place where you are most comfortable - the world within.

2. Decision making is more crucial than ever

To succeed as CEO you must be decisive. For introverts, reflection is a critical part of the decision making process.

Now that you're in the top spot you have the power to mold the decision-making process to better meet your needs, thus enabling you to meet the needs of the company.

Meet in small groups with your leadership team and business unit heads whenever possible.  During company-wide processes like budgeting and strategic planning work personal reflection into the process so as to keep the initiatives on track but allow time to respond to the many requests you'll receive.

Bottom line: recognize that as an introvert you are more effective when you have time to "think things through." By shaping the decision-making process to meet your needs wherever possible you'll empower yourself to be a more decisive and successful leader.

3. Embrace, and connect with, the "world outside"

It’s imperative to enter the world outside your comfort zone not only to thoroughly understand your customers, competitors and industry trends, but to create and nurture vital relationships that enable you to manage your board, gain new customers, develop external partnerships, and lead your teams.

Bottom line: Whereas networking was a critical strategy for advancing in your career, cultivating genuine and deep relationships -something introverts excel at -becomes the lifeblood of your focus as CEO.

Overall bottom line: Own your power! Introverts make wildly successful CEOs, and even Presidents...with Bill Gates and Abraham Lincoln as proof!


“The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” eBook, written by LeadChange author Lisa Petrilli, is now available for download for just $7.99! LeadChange readers can use code “LeadChange” to get 30% off when you download it at! You can also buy it on Amazon for Kindle and at Barnes & Noble for Nook.  This eBook is for introverts who want to use their introversion to their advantage in business and leadership, and for extroverts who lead introverts and wish to be more effective leaders.

This post was originally published on Smartblog for Leadership and has been edited for Lead Change.

Photo is "A Moment to Ponder" by mattlong1970

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