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.
· Team Player
· Deep Bonds
Definition: LOYALIST introverts are strong team players. They believe in supporting each other, especially when such a bond is reciprocated. In your personal life, you may not have a huge number of friends, but you develop strong bonds with a few people. You are a dedicated family person who enjoys dinners together around the table and family games, camping, or vacations. At work, you believe strongly in the importance of the team. Building and maintaining team chemistry is important. This drives you to build closer relationships and defend your team and company against naysayers.
"Introverts paradoxically pull away from culture and create culture."
-Laurie Helgoe (1960-, psychologist with speciality in personality development and culture, introvert)
Grow & Use!: Grow your talents by leveraging this need for loyalty to develop important relationships. Be wary that not everyone respects loyalty as you do. If people are not loyal or respectful of you, this may foster a lot of resentment, so be selective in sharing your loyalties. Spend time cultivating these relationships with 1:1 time to build close teams at work and family at home. You are a natural leader. Recognize that hiring people into your work or social “team” is one of your most important tasks. Bad chemistry can destroy your team. While you want a diverse group, ensure they too value trust, loyalty, and teamwork above all.
CAUTION!: Be careful not to develop “blind” trust. Always ensure your loyalty is well-founded so you don’t make emotional decisions.
Definition: LIST-MAKING/PLANNER introverts are well organized. You thrive on structure and schedules. Planners use these skills to detail family vacations and even household tasks. Planners also enjoy setting family goals and work goals which help everyone stay focused. Planning may range from annual, high-level goals to weekly calendars and task lists to daily schedules to the hour. Planners also like to arrange events including home parties or work meetings. These plans provide the desired level of control over an often rushed and chaotic day.
“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.”
-Carl Jung (1875-1961, founder of analytical psychiatry, often considered the "founder" of introversion, introvert)
Grow & Use!: Be sure to have a system. Whether a paper planner or online task list, such organization will provide you great comfort and alleviate the fear of missing deadlines or obligations. Use your calendar meticulously. Enjoy the freedom of scheduling meetings rather than having to do drop-in chats. Be sure to block off private time to ensure desk work and meeting prep time are provided, and that you have the chance to re-energize during the day. Offer to arrange dinner parties or work meetings. Though such events can be stressful, planning them provides comfort and familiarity that calms the nerves during the event.
CAUTION!: This can become obsessive-compulsive. That’s ok, but don’t force such structure on others who don’t have this same need or passion.
The world needs our natural talents. Discover your strengths, practice them, and proudly lean on them to be part of the new age of leadership at work.
"This is great, thank you so much!"-MT
"I am quite sure it is going to help me tremendously in knowing about myself."-AB
"Awesome! That is so descriptive!"-SS
Join over 750 introverts who have taken our Superpower Quiz to discover how to use and grow your own strengths. It's quick, it's free, and you get a personalized report just for you! Click here!
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