By Julie Goh (22 Dec 2022)

Assumptions have often been made when it comes to associating personality with job suitability. The most common being that introverts are not suitable for jobs which require them to interact with people. Under this assumption, they would make bad leaders because they would fail miserably when it comes to managing their team. This is because of the notion that introverts are shy, reserved and basically do not like socialising with people.

While this is true to certain types of introverts, it cannot be generalised to all introverts. In fact, introverts do make good leaders. There have been many successful introverts – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Steve Wozniak, and Barack Obama. Even Elon Musk is a self-proclaimed introvert.

SILENT LEADERSHIP

We often think of leaders as being out-spoken and aspiring – and therefore, assume that whoever speaks the loudest is the best possible leader. After all, just take a look at the politicians. People tend to vote for those who constantly have something to say.

But confidence and leadership ability have nothing to do with how loud your voice may be. Even the quietest person in the room has the ability to be a powerful leader. Just google up on Warren Buffet and Bill Gates; and read about their leadership style. As what another quiet introvert said, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” Those are the words of one of the world’s most recognised and revered physicists, Albert Einstein.

COMMON TRAITS OF AN INTROVERT

How do you know if someone is an introvert?

An introvert is someone who enjoys focus more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods (internal stimuli) rather than seeking out external stimulation.

Common behaviours of an introvert would include: -

· You find being around too many people drains your energy. After attending a social event, you tend to “recharge” by spending time by yourself.

· You are more comfortable with a small group of friends, rather than being the social butterfly.

· People might find it difficult to get to know you.

· You need time for yourself and prefer to spend time in your own thoughts to reflect.

· You enjoy doing things on your own and are very independent.

· You tend to be more careful and look before you leap.

· You dislike small talks.

· You do not like being in the spotlight.

It is generally perceived that all introverts are the same. However, there are 4 different types of introverts.

1. Social Introvert. Although they like being alone, but this doesn’t mean they have social anxiety or are against socialising with people. They just rather be alone or within a small group in a quiet setting – it’s a preference.

2. Thinking Introvert. They find intellectual hobbies such as reading, writing, paining or learning something that interests them, helps to relieve stress and energising. They are introspective and creative.

3. Anxious Introvert. When in the company of other people, might make them uncomfortable or nervous and feeling socially awkward or lack of confidence. They are withdrawn and quiet.

4. Restrained Introvert. They do not make hasty or spontaneous moves, but instead prefer to move at a slower pace and would take time to warm up to strangers. They do tend to overthink and would spend a significant amount of time before making a decision.

CAN INTROVERTS MAKE GOOD LEADERS?

While is true that not all introverts would fit in a leadership role, but the same can be said about extroverts too. Extroverts who are forceful, talkative and dominant can lead to a lot of friction with their teams and attrition rate would be rather high under such leadership.

So, what would make introverts good leaders?

1. Introverted leaders are calm

They are able to maintain their composure and can handle a crisis at ease. Under pressure, they can still think logically. The low-key personality of introvert leaders gives reassurance to those working for them.

2. They have good listening skills

Extroverts tend to talk a lot because of their nature and their tendency to be in the centre of attention. Introverts on the other hand, are more willing to listen to the input of other people. This is important in making employees feel motivated and valued. Managers who are great listeners will earn the trust of their employees

3. Theyare analytical and more careful before making their decisions

This is important when it comes to risk assessment when making a business decision. Rather than a spur of the moment decision or “follow the crowd” kind of decision, introverts tend to be more careful and would do proper fact-finding and research before making the move.

4. They do not indulge in office politics

They do not feel the need to be surrounded by people and gained their friendship, therefore, there is no need for them to be involved in office chatter/gossip or office politics. As a manager, this is important as they will be impartial and not influenced by hearsays. Employees will have confidence and trust in their leadership.

5. They are deep thinkers about goals and challenges, and are more detailed

They would take time to think thoroughly, and this allows them to generate innovative ideas and solutions to problems that are more detailed and workable.

6. They let others shine

Introverts do not crave attention. They will recognise the good work done by their team and not take credit in front of the boss. One of their most common complaints about managers is that they will take credit for the work done or ideas given by their employees – this will not happen if you have an introverted manager. They are not arrogant or do not have a big ego.

7. They focus on long-term results

They understand the need for long-term planning and recognise that short-term gain will not last. They are interested in productive processes.

8. They value productive relationships

They do not feel the need to have a lot of friends nor the craving for adoration. They might take time to build relationships but when they do, it will be productive and meaningful – and usually, lasting.

9. They are more focus

They prefer to be deep in their own thoughts, and they are not distracted by things around them. They have better concentration in the work they do.

10. They gain respect

Because of their compassionate, open, understanding and approachable manner in leading their team, it is only natural that they are able to gain the respect of those working under them. Similarly, because of their calmness in whatever situation and their ability to manage risk and problem-solving skills, the bosses too will value them.

11. They are not easily affected by emotions

This does not mean they are not sensitive to other people’s emotions. It just means that their judgment will not be affected by it. In fact, if you try to influence them emotionally, they will find you tiring.

A good thing about silent leadership is that they will not be barking orders at you. In fact, what they ask you to do is something that they would do themselves – leadership by example.

When you are working under an introverted leader, they allow the team, in many ways to be self-led. They encourage independence and do not feel the need to micromanage. They would rather use the time for their own thoughts and for generating new ideas and solutions.

The author is an award-winning HR Sifu with Kakitangan.com, who has made significant improvements in how HR operates in multiple retail and high-volume/fast-paced companies. Complimentary consultation sessions with HR Sifu are available for all paying Kakitangan.com customers.

Subscribe to Kakitangan.com’s FB community page for more useful HR and business tips here.