Aloof, doesn’t care, unconfident.
These are just some of the accusations that introverted leaders have had thrown at them. Because we may be quiet and reserved, many people think that we lack passion for the work we do.
Last year, when I wrote my article “Accepting Yourself as You Are as a Female Introverted Leader,” I was inundated with enquiries and responses from people all over the world, sharing their experiences of how they’d been made to feel like something was wrong with them because the corporate environment often views introversion as a weakness rather than a strength.
In many work cultures, if you’re not loud with a gregarious personality, it can seem as if you’re insignificant or your views don’t really count for anything.
Many people have mistaken beliefs about introverted leaders, and so I want to highlight six myths that just aren’t true:
1. They Lack Confidence
Many people associate introversion with a lack of confidence. And in fact, many women especially come to believe that they lack self-assurance simply because they’re introverts.
Throughout my childhood, teens, and early twenties, I was quiet. Because I wasn’t the life and soul of the party, I was mistaking how anti-social I was for a lack of confidence.
Once I accepted myself as I was—an introvert—and that it was OK, I actually saw my confidence levels soar. I can be the life and soul of the party in the right environments, in my own way.
2. They’re Indecisive in Meetings
For many introverts, rather than shooting from the hip, they prefer listening and reflecting before speaking.
As a result, you may not necessarily see them being forthright with their views in meetings. You may think that they’re not being vocal enough. But, the voice of reason is often required along with spontaneity, when important decisions are being made.
The way that many corporate meetings are run doesn’t necessarily allow for this introspection, with speedy decisions being preferred over well thought-out ones, which makes them more conducive for extroverts.
Introverts have something valuable to contribute, and playing to our strengths makes for more powerful results.
3. They Don’t Care About Performance
Introverts may not throw their toys out of their prams when they have a problem. But this doesn’t in anyway mean that they don’t care about performance.
Instead, many introverts prefer to let the results of the work that they do speak for itself. It’s unlikely that you’ll see them stamping their feet like an angry child or crying out until they get heard.
In a noisy environment where everyone is ‘shouting’ about themselves and what they’re achieving, introverts may get lost in the noise. When this happens, finding ways to promote themselves in ways that’re authentic to them will help them stand out above the racket.
4. They’re Afraid of Networking
Large, noisy environments aren’t necessarily the preferred way that introverts like to network. Having deeper conversations is often how they thrive.
Networking is about making meaningful connections and developing relationships. It’s not necessarily the case that introverts are afraid of networking, it’s that they prefer situations where they’re interacting with fewer people—not just making small talk, but getting to have real honest conversations.
5. They’re Not Good at Leading Others
Some people wrongly assume that because introverts are quieter and reserved, they won’t be good at leading others.
But this is far from true. Introverts are likely to listen carefully to the people that they lead, giving them autonomy to develop their own ideas and allowing them to grow and develop. This makes for engaged, motivated employees.
Their calm persona doesn’t invoke panic in times of crisis. This can project a reassuring confidence in the midst of challenging circumstances.
Along with their good listening skills, introverts can also be good at building empathy with the teams that they lead. This is a critical skill for effective leadership because it helps to build trust.
6. They Don’t Like Public Speaking
Because introverts don’t want to be the center of attention, many people assume that they don’t like public speaking. However, many introverts actually love public speaking (myself included), particularly if they’re speaking about a topic that they’re passionate about.
Their reflective nature makes it easier to develop an awareness of how engaged their audience is, enabling them to make sure that they’re keeping their audience interested in what they’re saying and the way that they’re presenting it.
Because introverts prefer not to put the focus on themselves, their delivery focuses on the message and how it will benefit the audience.
Just because someone’s an introverted leader doesn’t automatically mean that these beliefs are true. Having leadership that’s a mix of introverts and extroverts ultimately makes for an enriched work experience and an effective team.