The Quiet Strength of Introverted Leaders

By Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD.

The business world gets noisier everyday, making it even more surprising that introverts—the quiet, reserved types among us—have the right stuff to lead organizations, particularly amidst the blare of the current economic downturn.

Don’t see it? Take a look at five critical characteristics of introverted leaders.

  1. Embrace solitude
    Introverted leaders are energized by spending time alone. Sufferers of people exhaustion, they frequently need to retreat to recharge their batteries. These regular timeouts fuel their thinking, creativity, and decision-making, and when the pressure is on, help them be responsive—not reactive.
  2. Focus on depth
    Introverted leaders seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep—delving into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. They are drawn to meaningful conversations—not superficial chit-chat—and know how to ask great questions and really listen to people’s answers.
  3. Think first, talk later
    Introverted leaders think before they speak. Even in casual conversations, they consider others’ comments carefully, and stop and reflect before responding. Their tendency to be more measured with words is a major asset in today’s recession, when no leader can afford to make costly gaffes.
  4. Let their fingers do the talking
    Introverted leaders prefer writing to talking. They opt for e-mail over the telephone and meet face-to-face only when necessary. Today, their comfort with the written word helps them better leverage online social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook—creating new opportunities to be “out there” with employees as they deal with uncertainty and fear.
  5. Exude calm
    Introverted leaders are low-key. In times of crisis, they project a reassuring, calm confidence—think President Obama—and regardless of the heat of the conversation or circumstances, speak softly and slowly.

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