When we think of leaders, we picture them as outgoing, charming, and friendly. But did you know that introverts can be excellent leaders? Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk are a few examples. I’ll bet you thought these world-renowned individuals were not.
Try searching the web for the top qualities of great leaders. You’ll find trustworthiness, integrity, and empathy, among others. I haven’t seen a list that included charismatic or extroverted, though these may get politicians the votes to win an election. But, there’s no guarantee they’ll perform well as leaders.
So, why we think introverts can become great leaders? Here are some facts about them you might not be aware of:
- They’re not shy. We often assume introverts are shy but, most of them aren’t. They spend time deep in thought, so they sometimes avoid others. But they aren’t uncomfortable when they’re in a crowd. Maybe they choose to be quiet.
- They’re not detached. Yes, introverts can be loners. Albert Einstein was considered one. He loved his solitude and spent much time in silent reflection. Einstein had a family, so he wasn’t living alone. Being a loner isn’t necessarily bad. It doesn’t mean aloofness. Humans are social beings, but we need that time alone to recharge. Everybody needs that break away from everything.
- They’re secure people. Both extroverts and introverts can be insecure. Are you familiar with Johnny Carson? He is known as the “King of Late Night.” He exuded confidence and poise on television. But later on, he admitted he had insecurities in an interview. Introverts can have high self-esteem. People think they’re silent because they lack self-confidence.
- They’re not indecisive. You can say this about extroverts too. Introverts spend time weighing all options before making a decision. They don’t decide on impulse. Where would Microsoft or Facebook be now if Gates or Zuckerberg were indecisive? These companies wouldn’t be at the top.
- They are intelligent. It’s a mistake to assume talkative people are smart. Many think introverts are quiet because they have nothing to share. But sometimes, the people who talk more are those who know the least about a subject. Next time you’re in a discussion, ask the quiet ones for their opinions. You’ll be surprised to discover they’re brighter than others.
- They aren’t afraid of speaking before a crowd. Some of the best public speakers are introverts and they spend enough time preparing their speeches. President Obama and Mahatma Gandhi are great examples. Conversely, I’ve seen extroverts freeze onstage. It’s the fear of being judged that can cause stage fright. All share that.
So, when you meet an introvert, don’t stereotype. On the flip side, if you’re an introvert, keep your chin up. You’re in good company! I am an introvert and you?