The classic image of a great leader is someone full of charisma and exuberant energy, who can convince anyone to follow their ideas. But these outgoing types aren’t the only ones who exhibit great leadership capabilities.
Introverts, although lacking in outward charisma, may even make better leaders, says Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power. Some of the natural characteristics of introverts can be used to channel the energy of employees, producing some powerful results.
Helgoe says introverts have some significant leadership strengths that shouldn’t be overlooked:
Introverts have great receptive capacity. “We often think of leaders as putting out, having brilliant speeches and rallying, but that receptive capacity (of introverts) to receive, listen, take into account varying points of view, is very undervalued,” says Helgoe. Because introverts don’t need to be the center of attention, they often enjoy hearing input from others before making a decision.
Introverts tend to spend a lot of time alone reflecting. Pulling away into a private office to think things over is a common introvert trait and can be a leadership advantage, as this long-range thinking can help others feel more confident in their leader’s ability to pull off a plan. The one danger to this is that introverts may not naturally want to communicate thoughts and ideas that aren’t fully developed. “An introvert likes to work things out in their head so there could be some introverts who like to hoard that process and not share it,” says Helgoe.
Because introverts work best with lower stimulation, an introvert-led environment tends to be a calm one. The low-key personality of introvert leaders provides reassurance to those under them, especially during times of crises.
Introverts tend to be better prepared than extroverts, says Helgoe. This comes from preference for working things out solo. “An introvert is going to come in having reflected and having done their homework,” says Helgoe. Just “winging it” isn’t in their capabilities.