Introverted leaders have many gifts. Among them is the ability to think very deeply about problems and to come up with inventive solutions. Introverts are also great listeners. Another strength is the ability to remain calm under stress. Introverts are also terrific at preparation, able to anticipate what might be needed.
But as with any strength, introverted leaders have challenges that may make them look weak and out of touch. Great ideas are worthless if a leader can’t get anyone to listen to them. Calm can look like disengagement when everyone else is in a panic. So what’s an introverted leader to do?
At several points in my career, I received feedback that I was not engaged and that I failed to make my message accessible. Eventually I made it a habit to do three things every day.
- Engage with at least one person on my team or a critical stakeholder to connect and to share some of my feelings. Although a leader needs to put a good face on things to further his/her agenda, it doesn’t mean that you can’t carefully express your feelings about setbacks. Sharing your mental and emotional processes for handling obstacles and staying focused on the goal may help them to do the same. I found that these conversations were helpful to me because I learned as much as I shared.
- If I came up with a solution or an idea, consider how I needed to approach selling it, remembering that few people that I would be talking to spent as much time as I did considering the issue. This forced me to put myself in other people’s shoes and sometimes sell ideas in ways that didn’t reflect my own thought processes.
- Consider my objective in every meeting I attended. I thought about what they were likely to be thinking before the meeting and how I wanted to shift that opinion during the meeting. In thinking about people and how I wanted to affect them, it made me better able to craft an effective message.
The important thing to remember is that as introverted leaders who tend to be more focused on our inner worlds need to flex and get in the habit of thinking about how we look and sound to those we are trying to lead.
QUESTION: What practices do you have for building connections with your team?
Leadership/Career Coach Kris Ishibashi works with leaders to bring together their skills, their authentic selves, and their intentions to inspire their organizations to superior performance. Click here to set up a complimentary consultation.