Jul 11 Introversion is a Proven Leadership DNA Asset, So Own It
I’m a natural-born introvert, and early in my executive career people kept telling me, “Only extroverts make good leaders.” Obviously, I proved them wrong − because soon I was a Senior Executive of a Fortune 100 company. Not only that, but I was in charge of developing many of the organization’s leaders. But it took intentional practice and development for me to figure out how to utilize my naturally introverted personality traits. Since then, I’ve leveraged them – and those of countless other introverted executives around the globe – into the qualities great leaders need to succeed
Introverts Deliver Unexpected, High-Value ROI
How is that possible? Harvard Business Review published an article about introverts in the business world that helps answer that question. It stated, “Like extroverts, introverts have a natural ability to build deep and meaningful connections. They just do it a bit differently.” In fact, research involving nearly 1,000 CEOs found that often, when it comes to exceeding expectations, introverts outperform extroverts.
Where Extroverts Are Challenged Introverts Excel
Rest assured, leadership isn’t a one-size-fits all role. For example, introverts are typically the best listeners, and they process what they hear before they speak. Their tendency is to practice empathy and keenly observe others. As a result, they are generally experts at gathering information – including crucial, silent, nonverbal messages.
By contrast, extroverts often overlook such things, which can undermine their leadership capability. I know, because I’ve coached thousands of natural extroverts. Oftentimes, Fortune 500 companies hire me to help their extroverted top leaders be more active and attentive listeners and lead teams in a more inclusive, collaborative way. So if you’re an extrovert I can help you enhance your leadership DNA, as well, by sharing strategies from the introvert’s playbook.
Is Your Organization Seeking Adaptable Leaders?
Organizations today, more than ever, need nimble, adaptable leadership – and introverts are extremely adaptable. A desire for success can outweigh their natural inclination to be reserved and push them to develop skills normally attributed to extroverts. I’m the poster child for this idea. Leadership is in my DNA. Companies hire me to instill that DNA in their C-Suite executives and their organizations. Despite being an introvert, I am an active member of the National Speakers Association. I deliver keynote addresses at Fortune 500 Leadership Academies and industry conferences. I’ve spoken to audiences of thousands of people all around the world. So I’m not sure where people got the crazy notion that introverts can’t excel in leadership roles.
See if you agree/disagree with these statements:
- Parties and networking events deplete me. Afterward, I need alone time to recharge.
- I’m most creative when I can think, reflect, and problem-solve on my own.
- I love people, but often do my best work when I’m alone.
- I’d rather send emails than communicate face-to-face.
If you agree with more than one, you definitely have textbook characteristics of introversion. Why not leverage them to your advantage? But don’t try to be someone you aren’t because it can be exhausting and lead to burnout. Last fall, Harvard Business Review cited research that found that when introverts try to act like extroverts, it “can end up being draining and depleting, rather than energizing.” Instead, get in touch with the natural gifts, skills, and strengths introverts share.
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Sarah Hathorn, CEO of Hathorn Consulting Group, is the go-to-expert in working with leaders and companies to create successful corporate DNA. As an executive coach, consultant and speaker she collaborates globally with clients and brands such as Deloitte, McKesson, Kimberly-Clark, Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot and other leading organizations.
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