If I asked you to imagine a person behind a boss’ desk, what would you say?
That person is probably confident, assertive, and opinionated. They’re leading calls and meetings with intimidating authority. Are you imagining an extrovert?
Most people do. Learning how to thrive as an introvert manager can be difficult, not only because of your personality but because other people struggle to see you as a leader.
What if I told you that many introvert leaders are actually more successful than their extroverted counterparts? You might not be sure of yourself, but this guide will prove that you have what it takes.
No hanging your head any longer. Learn how to lead by following these simple steps.
Why We Need Introverted Leaders
If you tend to feel drained quickly by social interactions, it’s likely that you have introverted tendencies. Instead of living your life out loud, you live a full and colorful life inside your head.
Many people see introverts as less opinionated and confident than extroverts, but that simply isn’t true. Introverts can have as many opinions and as much confidence as extroverts, they just don’t express themselves in the same way.
Because introverts don’t often express themselves out loud, people don’t get to see their leadership qualities as directly. These people also might not have a clear idea of what true leadership is.
To an extent, yes, you need to express yourself as a leader. You should embolden your staff with a feeling of confidence and provide direction. You don’t have to accomplish these traits by being loud and aggressive, though.
Some of the most powerful and inspiring leaders of our time and in history have been introverts. Some introverted leader examples are Mark Zuckerberg, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Gates, and more.
If they can do it, why can’t you?
Introverts have so many great traits that make them wonderful leaders and managers. These traits include:
- Amazing listeners
- Critical thinking skills
- Much calmer in stressful situations
- Proceed with caution
- Always assess all angles of a situation to find root causes
- Care about detail-oriented and thorough work
- Have very high standards for themselves
- Great written communication skills
- Love structure and rules
When you think about it, aren’t these all great traits for running a great work environment that gets superior results?
How to Thrive as an Introvert Manager
Introverts can be great as leaders, as they have so many great leadership traits. Experiencing leadership life as an introvert, though, can be difficult. Because introverts have a tendency to feel drained from social situations, introvert leaders need to structure their days and approach employees differently than extroverts.
The tips below are meant to help you, an introvert, thrive as a manager by avoiding overwhelm, burnout, and unhealthy relationships with your employees.
Embrace a Positive Mindset
There are many reasons why introverts hold themselves back in leadership roles. They may be extremely smart and amazing listeners, but they can often get in their own heads. Some reasons why introverts might experience failures in their management roles include:
- Overthinking and being paralyzed by fear of mistakes
- Tendency to micromanage
- Overly cautious in making decisions
- Preference to work alone and communicate in written form rather than in teams face-to-face
While these personality traits can get in your way, you should embrace a positive mindset to tackle them.
Because introverts tend to be cautious, analytical, and detail-oriented, they can slow things down in the workplace quite a bit. Some don’t realize, however, that these tendencies can often be exaggerated by fear of failure and judgment from others.
By embracing a positive mindset, you can think of your employees as peers who want you to succeed as much as they want themselves to succeed. As your leader, they also want to see you as a human being they can relate to. Instead of enforcing god-like perfection on yourself, understand that everyone makes mistakes and your employees will like you better for admitting you’re wrong sometimes.
Once you embrace a more positive mindset, you can let go of being too cautious, trust your employees to do their work, and be more comfortable in face-to-face situations.
Create Office Hours
Regardless of a positive mindset, people still have limitations. It’s important to understand how introverted you are and what your limits are for social interactions.
As an introvert, it’s very likely that you work better alone in your office. You probably enjoy answering emails a lot more than leading office meetings and making rounds in the workplace.
You’ll still need to do these things, but you can structure your day in a way that serves your work style best. One way to do this is to create office hours.
By dedicating a certain period of the day to allow employees to enter your office, you can seriously cut down on the number of times people can interrupt you and demand your attention.
If you’re a morning person, you might find it’s better to tackle issues with your employees earlier in the day before you really get started on your work. If you need the morning to warm up and tackle priority projects, first set your office hours for the afternoon when you need a break from your computer.
You’ll probably feel much better once you can set the amount of time you’re comfortable with to tackle employees’ needs, and you’ll know when to expect it so you can prepare yourself.
Setting boundaries is a healthy technique for everyone, not just introverts, to take care of themselves and those around them. Without boundaries, people can be taken advantage of or hurt without any real consequences.
You know yourself best, and you should get to know your employees as well. Creating a safe work environment for everyone means more than sexual harassment training or fire drills. You need to set boundaries.
Make sure your employees understand where your head is at and what kind of behavior you expect. Setting office hours is a great first step, but use that logic and apply it to everything else.
During team meetings, you can set boundaries for how meetings will proceed. For example, you can set a structure for who talks, when and how questions can be handled. You can make sure that extroverts don’t dominate conversations and that introverts are given ample time to process information and ask questions.
You can also set boundaries for how your employees can contact you and when so that you aren’t overwhelmed. This is especially important for leaving work at work, such as not answering emails and calls outside of work hours.
Buffer Time Between Meetings
Introverts need downtime, and that’s why office hours are so important. Having set time to revert back to introspection and focus on work is critical to an introvert functioning. Another way to ensure downtime is to enforce buffer times between meetings.
If your work environment demands a lot of meetings, it’s likely you can feel overwhelmed and start to lose your focus towards the end. To ensure you’re well-rested for each one, you’ll want time in between rather than a string of endless meetings.
Because introverts also do a lot of thinking, having time between meetings allows them to reset and refocus. You can use that time to breathe and prepare for the next meeting so you’re ready to go.
Emphasize Your Strengths
As someone who does so well working alone, it can be hard to learn how to motivate as an introvert. Reaching out to employees who are struggling is not your first instinct. There may be some other things that are expected of you as a leader that you feel yourself holding back from, so it’s important to really analyze yourself.
Instead of focusing on your flaws, though, emphasize your strengths.
For example, you may not be as proactive about reaching out to employees, but you’re an amazing listener and problem-solver. Make sure your employees are comfortable with coming to you for a problem, rather than suffering in silence. Show them that you can come up with fair and smart solutions.
Are you a great planner? Use this to your advantage by creating a solid structure that your employees can rely on. Keep them informed of the weeks and months ahead and be strict about deadlines so they know what to expect.
When it comes to things you know you have to work on, great news! Introverts are experts at working on themselves. Try finding developmental experiences for introverted leaders that will help you identify your flaws and turn them into strengths.
How Employees Can Thrive With Introvert Managers
You and your employees can work together to create a stellar work environment. Employees can thrive with introverted managers as long as they understand each other.
Introvert managers are experts in analytical thinking, observing, and listening. They’ll be able to easily identify which employees are introverted and extroverted and can empathize with the dynamics in the workplace.
Introvert managers have undoubtedly experienced work situations where they have an extroverted boss that doesn’t understand their needs. Not only will they have a lot in common with introverted employees, but empathize with extroverted employees having a very different personality from their boss.
In turn, introverted leaders will learn easily how to supervise an introvert. They will also be able to level with extroverts. Here’s how:
Introvert Leaders Can Delegate Well
Because introvert managers are strong in their abilities to analyze and plan, they’ll be great at delegating responsibilities. Employees will thrive when they are given tasks that they are passionate about and excel in.
Teams of employees will work better together and produce positive results because responsibilities are evenly distributed according to individual strengths.
Proactive Teams Thrive With Introvert Managers
Introvert leaders do better with proactive teams. This is because introverted leaders often spend a lot of time alone doing their own work and more confident with independent thought and action.
Introverts want to trust that their employees are doing their jobs well and handling problems, but have a tendency to micromanage if they’re not hearing from their employees.
A proactive team will be on top of their work, responsive to their boss, and will actively reach out regularly with issues. This keeps an introverted manager confident that their team is handling their work and will reach out if there’s a problem.
In return, proactive teams will have a leader that can quickly and cleverly handle problems without being overbearing. An introverted leader will allow the employees to do what they do best.
Introverts Create a Free Environment for Opinions
Introverts pride themselves on seeing things from all angles. When a problem arises, it isn’t enough to only hear one person’s opinion. Because of this, introverts can often come up with thorough and clever solutions to problems.
It also means that employees work in an environment that is open to opinions and innovation. An introverted manager will want to listen to everyone’s ideas and use everything they hear to assess a situation.
Environments that are free to innovation, opinion, and even mistakes are environments that lend themselves to better work and results. They’re also environments where everyone is comfortable to speak and feels heard, regardless of position and personality.
In return, employees can find their strengths and become better assets to the company. They might even forge a path for themselves to get promotions and raises.
Introverts Are Great Mentors For Employees
Introverts do much better in small groups, especially one-on-one meetings. This means that introverted managers can make wonderful mentors. They can be calm and accepting, but they can also be analytical and careful.
In return, they’re great at helping employees to ask questions freely and making smart decisions. They can also be great role models for introverted employees that are struggling to assert themselves at work, and they can help extroverted employees understand their counterparts better.
Become a Great Introvert Manager
Being an introvert is something to be proud of. You have amazing skills and traits that can help lead successful teams and achieve amazing results. All you need is a little push to harness that power and use your strengths to your advantage.
Now that you’re motivated and confident, you can further your career by taking advantage of great resources for introverts in the workplace. Jumpstart your journey by hiring an introvert career coach!