When envisioning successful leaders, many go the route of the classic composite, usually envisioning someone overly confident with a charismatic flair and a knack for conversation. What many fail to realize is that leadership comes in many forms, and not all successful leaders would consider themselves to be extroverted. 

Many notable leaders, including Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Meyer, consider themselves introverts, which goes to show that successful leaders come in a variety of forms. Unlike extroverted leaders, introverted leaders have an unmatched toolbox of unique skills that set them apart from their counterparts. They are excellent relationship builders, detailed writers, and methodical thinkers. 

What is introverted leadership?

An introverted leader can guide, mentor, network, and make important decisions just as well as an extroverted leader. The main difference between an introverted leader and an extroverted leader is the way they lead and the principles and practices they embrace while leading. Even though their styles differ from extroverted leaders, introverted leaders have proven in some scenarios to be more successful than their counterparts. 

Introverted leaders have no desire to be in the limelight, thus being content with letting deserving employees take the spotlight. In addition, they leverage a variety of tactics that make them more methodic in their approach. Where an extroverted leader would talk first and listen later, an introverted leader embraces the power of listening and takes extra time to process information. Introverted leaders block off time to recharge and reflect, and surround themselves with proactive workers who can take a simple concept and run with it. 

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Why introverted leadership works

Unlike extroverted leaders, introverted leaders have the ability to create exceptionally strong relationships with their employees. This bond proves to be a major benefit when it comes time to assign tasks or work on challenging problems. This strong bond paired with a limited desire for recognition also makes it possible for introverted leaders to let those around them shine. Where other leaders would bask in the limelight, introverted leaders encourage those around them to recognize the contributions of their colleagues and direct reports. 

Many successful companies have been led by introverted leaders. Some names you may recognize include: 

  • Bill Gates
  • Warren Buffett
  • Marissa Meyer
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Guy Kawasaki
  • Barack Obama 

10 ways to succeed as an introverted leader

1Take advantage of your introverted personality strengths

If you harness your powers correctly, being an introverted leader can be seen as a major superpower. There are a variety of talents and skills introverted leaders possess that aren’t seen amongst other leaders. These characteristics are what sets you apart from other leaders, and you should lean into them and be proud of them instead of trying to minimize their importance. 

2Use your active listening skills 

One of the many favorable characteristics of an introverted leader is having the ability to listen intently as opposed to talking or stating your opinion right out of the gate. Active listening doesn’t come easy to most, and you should be proud if you consider yourself an excellent active listener. Active listening is essential for effective communication in the workplace. Without it, you would not be able to host engaging conversations or truly understand perspectives beyond your own. Taking the time to listen intently is a sign of trust and respect and will lead to strengthened manager-employee relationships. 

3Build relationships with regular one-on-one meetings

One-on-one meetings are one of the most misunderstood and underutilized tools amongst leaders. Hosting frequent one-on-ones is a great way to build and strengthen working relationships. These meetings are also great for having open and honest conversations with your colleagues or employees where each one of you can take the time to give and receive feedback. You can use this time to discuss wins, failures, or potential blockers that may be getting in the way of progress. 

As an introvert, you’ll find that one-on-one meetings offer the perfect opportunity to host a meaningful conversation that feels intimate and controlled. Using a meeting template will ensure your next one-on-one runs smoothly and efficiently. 

Try this free one-on-one meeting agenda template:

4Set aside time to recharge 

Given the limited energy you may have for social encounters as an introvert, it’s important to take time to recharge. Engaging in too many group activities may lead to a depleted battery, which will ultimately make it difficult for you to be the best leader that you can be. If you fail to recharge your battery, you’ll notice yourself withdrawing from activities or feeling depleted or burnt-out. Taking some time for yourself and carving out blocks when you’re able to work individually will ensure your social battery isn’t always running on empty. 

5Step out of your comfort zone

Networking can be difficult for introverts. This challenge can be attributed to both their limited social battery and their lack of desire for participating in busy environments. While it’s important to respect your personal boundaries and be cognisant of your social battery, it’s also important to step out of your comfort zone from time to time. Where some may fail at nurturing connections or expanding their networks genuinely, introverts thrive as they are more meticulous with the conversations and connections they explore. 

6Speak up

Occasionally, introverts can get lost in the noise. It can be easy to hide in your shell and stay quiet during round table discussions or group meetings, but it’s also important to speak up from time to time and make sure your voice is heard. Introverts are known for having exceptional writing skills, which can be a great alternative for communicating if speaking up in a social setting doesn’t go as planned. Communicating mostly in writing can be a great way for introverts to reflect and organize their thoughts and often leads to a more methodic outcome. 

7Give and receive feedback 

A healthy, strong culture starts with feedback, and Fellow makes it easier than ever to share real-time feedback on meetings, projects, and performance. In addition to creating a thriving environment, giving and receiving feedback also helps strengthen relationships and improve performance. If you want your teammates to thrive through feedback, you need to create a company culture that fosters giving and receiving feedback. With Fellow, you can easily incorporate feedback into your team’s day-to-today experience and track progress over time. 

8Delegate 

No matter your level of expertise or your role, you’ll always reach a point where it becomes impossible to do everything on your own. Delegation is an extremely important skill that needs to be mastered by leaders. Having teammates you can count on not only demonstrates their competence and willingness to step up in a time of need, but it also means you’ve done your job as a leader and equipped them with the skills they need to excel. Delegating is a great opportunity to demonstrate your trust while simultaneously helping your teammates develop their skills through new opportunities. 

9Benefit from your writing skills 

As we mentioned, introverts often prefer to communicate via writing as it gives them the opportunity to listen in real-time and reflect on their thoughts at a later time. This preference can double as a superpower if you use your writing skills to your advantage. If your preference is writing, you may want to consider asynchronous communication for tasks like providing updates or instructions via Slack or email. 

10Include team members in brainstorming

Brainstorming as a group is great because it allows for a wide variety of perspectives and insights. Despite being an introvert and thriving in an individualized setting, it’s still important that you learn from outside perspectives. Inviting your teammates to participate in your brainstorming sessions will ensure you aren’t biased in your approach. Your teammates may also have completely different perspectives, which may ultimately lead to excellent ideas that you wouldn’t have otherwise stumbled upon on your own. To ensure your brainstorming meeting goes well, you may want to consider leveraging a brainstorming meeting agenda template:

Introverted leadership is a superpower. Are you tapping into it? 

Many famous leaders and innovators consider themselves introverts, which goes to show that success comes in many forms. The success of renowned leaders and visionaries like Bill Gates and Barack Obama demonstrates that leadership isn’t monopolized by what some may consider to be a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. Classic characteristics like being highly confident and outgoing aren’t the only elements that make one a charismatic leader but rather a mere representation of what it means to be a leader. Accept your introverted leadership style as a superpower and watch yourself and your team excel.