How to lean on your own strengths to be a great leader
Seventy-seven percent of companies identified a leadership gap in 2019. What is a leadership gap? Companies are lacking leaders to fill positions now and it will only get worse as 10,000 baby boomers a day retire! Furthermore, most companies are also finding a gap in skillset to meet the evolving world of creative innovation, balanced problem solving, and relationship building.
Turns out introverts are primed to satisfy both parts of this widening gap. Although introverts are roughly 50% of the working population, studies have revealed introverts are only 2% of the leadership ranks! Many introverts also bring the personality traits and strengths necessary to succeed in the decades ahead.
Four common introvert traits empower us to take the lead in the 2020s and beyond - listening, learning, loyalty, and lists. Each of these was found to be prominent throughout the over 750 respondents to our 2020 Introvert Superpower Quiz and just may be the key to your leadership journey.
Let's dive into each - what they are, how we use and grow them, and what cautions to consider.
Definition: LISTENER introverts are quite perceptive. You use these skills to listen to others, to observe scenes (people watching), to consider both sides of an issue, and to think introspectively. Observant introverts may appear to be quiet but are often surveying the landscape and absorbing information. You prefer more time to assess situations and options before declaring a position or view. At home and at work, you tend to see situations from a different perspective and then take the time to consider other family members or team views before moving forward.
“I believe that there’s something interesting about anyone and everyone – you just have to figure out what that something is.”
-Tony Hsieh (1973-2020, internet entrepreneur, former CEO of Zappos, introvert)
Grow & Use!: To grow this skill, consciously observe not just words but body language at home and in meetings. Prepare for meetings by considering who will attend, their possible agenda, and any presentation material you can get in advance. Take notes to remember and reinforce all the details. Repeat what you hear and/or probe further for more details. This will help to focus your observations and speed up your process to voice opinions.
CAUTION!: Don’t be drawn to make early, verbose pronouncements. Take your time to observe, analyze, consider, and decide. Your views will make a difference.
Definition: LEARNER introverts love to learn. You are curious about the world around you. You are often a voracious reader and checkout podcasts and YouTube channels, along with TV documentaries. Understanding the history of the world around you is important. At home that may mean researching genealogy or reading nonfiction books. At work, having some background on your company and projects you are working on helps to bring context, may spark some creative ideas, and develops loyalty with the group. Ensure you make time to quench your need to learn!
“I learned how to be a learner. When you get in a job, the tendency is to say, 'I've got to know it. I've got to give direction to others. I'm in this job because I'm better and smarter.' I always took a different view, that the key was to identify the people who really knew and learn from them.”
-Anne Mulcahy (1952-, self-trained leader, former CEO of Xerox, introvert)
Grow & Use!: Grow your talent by practice. Learn new subjects. Delve deeper into the background of organizations. Learn new skills at work and how things operate. Consider how processes may become more efficient. Study the culture and history of vacation spots or even the town you live in. Sharing your learnings is a great conversation starter as well. Schedule 1:1 “Get To Know You” sessions with people at work. Calm any shyness by approaching such discussions as learning opportunities. Ask for feedback from managers, team members, and customers. Strive to take away a few points that help build relationships or gain new perspectives on a person or team. Start a mentoring relationship or two. Being both a mentor and a mentee will satisfy your desire to learn…about yourself and about others. It’s a great way to give back to others and make a difference too!
CAUTION!: Just don’t forget to apply your learnings at work and at home.