A shy, reticent person.
The introvert is often seen as the weak link in the team.
The quiet one.
The one that often prefers to be alone. The one that seems aloof and disinterested.
When we think about leaders, or potential leaders, the introvert is often forgotten.
In a society where socialisation is encouraged, introverts struggle to be accepted.
I believe Introverts can be your teams secret weapon.
You just need to know how to spot them and extract the best from them.
The Myth of the Introvert
It would be useful to look at the stereotypical traits of an introvert and the pitfalls this can create. Although stereotypes exist for a reason it is lazy thinking to believe all introverts fit into a certain group.
- They hate all forms of communication
- They run away from small talk
- They are painfully shy
- They dislike people and will avoid social situations
- They always want to be on their own
- They are aloof and disinterested
They are choosing to be this way and could be extroverts
At times it is easy to believe we live in a world of extroverts and this is what everyone aspires to be. Being introverted is seen as having benefits but most of the time they are perceived as not wanting to be part of the group.
Question marks exist over whether they can be trusted.
Perceived as wanting to be out of the limelight introverts can miss out on great opportunities, both personally and professionally.
People assume they do not want to be involved and want to blend in with the crowd.
Finally work can be problematic for them.
Introverts will rarely shout about their results. As such they run the risk of being ignored or overlooked.
Gates, Jobs and Zuckerberg
In reality, what do Introverts actually bring to the party?
They bring a huge amount of skill and talent that is often dismissed out of hand.
It is our job to look for the talents of the introverted nation. In doing so you will find a group of people who deliberate, evaluate and deliver results.
When you think of introverts in business, who do you think of?
If I had to guess, I would say Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are all introverted in some way.
You don’t have to work in tech, to be on the introverted side (remember, avoid those stereotypes), but it shows that an introvert can have huge success and change people’s thinking.
We all have the ability to be introvert or extrovert. We do, however, have a natural preference for a particular point on the spectrum. For Introverts the spectrum can be broken down even further.
Some introverts are creative and have the ability to border a Extro-Introvert line.
They are able to express themselves in mini bursts, providing they have time to prepare.
In doing so they can wow their audience without demanding an encore.
Some introverts be more measured in their approach. They may be seen as quiet but confident types.
They do not say much, but when they do it matters.
They have the ability to be in the spotlight and perform well, when needed, but prefer to be away from the fuss and nonsense.
The last group on the spectrum will show definite characteristics of the introvert myth.
They may come across as shy and may lack warmth to those that do not know them.
In meetings the introvert soaks up information, allowing them to deal with multiple concepts.
They can clearly construct guidance on the ideas in hand. An introvert may not always choose summarise there and then.
They may need time to go away and think about it, then provide their direction.
Because introverts can evaluate ideas well, they do not get too carried about an idea.
They may even be critical of the idea, doing so even if it is their own.
The best people need to solve problems, balance evidence and build persuasive arguments.
Introverts are able to stick with a problem, even when it seems no solution exists.
They Paint it Big
As introverts see all sides of the coin, plus they take their time in doing so, they are in a better position to make a informed choice about what to do next.
Laser Like Focus
Introverts will block out all distractions and their desire will be to get the job done.
They are comfortable working in isolation, if it means they will give their best to the task in hand.
If you hand a task to an introvert there is a high chance it will be completed and executed efficiently.
They Gift Time
The meeting is booked for 60 mins? An introvert will not need the meeting to last for 60 mins, if it can be done in 30 mins. Advance notice of what the meeting is about will lead to ideas and solutions. If an introvert feels prepared, laser like focus kicks in – as a result time is gifted back to you.
Everyone has the ability to be creative.
Neither the extrovert or introvert has exclusivity over it, but each group brings a different set of skills to the table. As we have touched on, introverts listen carefully and observe events as they happen. This means they can work issues with more clarity and depth.
The also have the ability to be articulate, identify the root of the issue and have awareness of consequence.
Introverts may have a preference for working in isolation but this does not mean they are incapable of creating great teams. They have the ability to ask great coaching questions, encourage different thinking and help teams identify and work towards a common goal or sense of purpose.
- Socialisation is encouraged at the expense of introverts
- Stereotypes of both introverts and extroverts tend to be myths
- Introverts are often overlooked, especially for leadership roles
- Even within introversion there exists a spectrum
- Introverts have the ability to soak up a lot of info and ideas
- They can be balanced in their thinking and can see the bigger picture
- They value efficiency and become engrossed in the task, until completion
They are creative and value teamwork, encouraging teams to think differently
In business it takes a mixture of different people to create success.
Without this there would be no differences of opinion, no conflict and little in the way of challenge. It is exactly these situations which bring about brilliant ideas and collaboration.
Extroverts often receive all the headlines and most of the glory.
If leaders can avoid extrovert bias, introverts are perfectly placed to be your new secret weapon.
Introverts can be great leaders and as the above outlines, have exactly the type of skills and talent needed to thrive in the business world.
Whilst you may not uncover a Ghandi, Eleanor Roosevelt or Rosa Parks (yes, they are all introverts) you will uncover people with similar ideas, passions and a desire to be beholden to a larger goal, rather than ego or a hunger for the spotlight.
To utilise your secret weapon you may need to review your own perception of who introverts are, how they like to work and the magic they could bring to your team.
Believe and take action