Introverts Can Be Great Leaders Too
What do Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett all have in common? They are all considered to be among some of the most influential people of our time. They are also all introverts—people who are more introspective and are energized by working and spending time alone.
Introverts are often hesitant to take on leadership roles because they worry the constant demands for their time and attention and increased social interactions will be so mentally and emotionally taxing that they won’t be effective leaders. But, they shouldn’t be. Approximately 40% of top executives are introverts and are said to be better listeners, better at implementing the ideas of their teams and better at cultivating one-on-one relationships with their employees than their extroverted counterparts.
Even though you can be a great leader as an introvert, it’s obviously not going to be easy. But, you can make a few adjustments to your routine that will save your sanity and make it a more enjoyable experience.
1. Schedule time to socialize: Introverts generally consider small talk to be a waste of time and completely uncomfortable, preferring instead to be involved in deeper one-on-one conversations. As a result, they also get labeled socially awkward and anti-social, which is probably okay if you’re not in a high profile position. But, as a leader, you’ve got to get to know your people and make sure they know you care about them. That’s why, as much as it may pain you, you’ve got to schedule at least a half hour a couple of days a week to walk around the office and interact with your employees. Not only will it let the employees know you’re interested in them as people, it will also eventually make having to interact and make small talk feel more natural.
2. Plan more small meetings: Big departmental and company-wide meetings aren’t always the best place to get things done because not everyone is comfortable expressing their ideas and opinions in big group settings. For introverts, they also aren’t the best place for clear and strategic thinking. Instead of relying solely on the big group gatherings, focus more on small and one-on-one meetings. Not only will you get deeper insights into what is going on in your business, you can be more focused on the issue and more productive in coming up with real, actionable solutions.
3. Increase your social media presence: Most introverts communicate more effectively in writing, which can actually be beneficial in a world that relies so greatly on electronic communications. Now that social media plays such a big role in the business world, you have yet another tool at your disposal to stay in communication with your company’s stakeholders. Get on Twitter and Facebook and use them often. If you’re not sure how to use them, there are plenty of websites—that you can read alone in the solitude of your office– that tell you how to maximize the two platforms for business purposes.
This post originally appeared on MariaShriver.com.