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  • Writer's pictureJenn Donahue

How To Lead Introverts More Effectively

Leaders, how many introverts do you have on your team?

LinkedIn recently shared that 30%-50% of the population is introverted. So you likely have at least one introvert on your team. Do you know how to best lead them?

Introverts and extroverts work differently and we need to be able to flex to both work styles if we want to effectively lead our teams and achieve our goals more effectively. Getting to know your team is vital to leading each member in the best way possible.

Introverts can often come off as shy or reserved. They are usually the quieter ones in the room. They are the ones observing, watching, and assessing before responding or answering.

Extroverts are the outspoken ones in the room. They may come off as loud or sometimes arrogant and they typically have a more charismatic and outgoing personality. Extroverts are more likely to speak up and respond quickly to ideas and questions. Extroverts are fueled by sharing their workspace with others and thrive in more social settings.

Introverts recharge by having alone time to retreat and internally process new information and questions before speaking up. They prefer more solitary and quiet work environments and spaces.

Assessing your team and understanding how to work with both introverts and extroverts can take your leadership skills to the next level.

Here are three ways you can flex your leadership style to suit an introverted work style.

1. Have a Clear Agenda

A clear plan for meetings offers introverts a chance to prepare for the conversation. Introverts feel appreciated when they can clearly understand what is being asked and are allowed the chance to think about the questions they have before the full team comes together.

Introverts value the time to methodically think through their thoughts and act with intention. When introverts have a detailed agenda outlined, they can show up more prepared and confident for meetings and contribute more intentionally.

2. Give Your Team The Chance To Ask Questions

Our job as leaders in a meeting is often to lead the conversation. Part of our role is to keep the team engaged and the meeting progressing. Sometimes keeping our teams engaged means giving each member the chance to answer the questions we are asking.

Allowing room for silence or creating space for an individual to answer gives the introverts on the team a chance to speak up.

This leaves room for more ideas to come forward outside of the ones being shouted out. It also presents the extroverts with a chance to listen while building team trust and enhancing communication.

3. Understand Their Need To Recharge

Introverts value solitude. It’s important to realize that not all members of your team recharge in a group setting. Introverts prefer time to themselves to think through their ideas, process internally, and ultimately recharge alone. If you are constantly pushing your team together, the introverts will burn out and the outcomes you want will become harder to achieve.

Giving people on your team the option to recharge alone builds trust with your team because you are recognizing the needs of your people and providing a solution.

What Do Introverts Bring To a Team?

In a Harvard study, introverts were shown to be more effective leaders (particularly when working with more proactive teams) and displayed more thoughtful ideas for improving business.

Often charismatic and outgoing extroverts are depicted as the ideal image for a leader. However, that does not mean that outspoken personalities are the only qualities that make a good leader.

In fact, empathy is extremely important in business. A new E&Y study recently released that, “86% of employees believe empathetic leadership boosts morale while 87% of employees say empathy is essential to fostering an inclusive environment.”

Introverts being more internal by nature, tend to look for more empathetic leadership. They are looking for a work environment that suits their needs and feel valued for being able to contribute in a way that feels authentic to them.

Introverts deeply connect with their team and build lasting relationships. As observers, introverts can see from an objective lens how each member of their team works, and adapt accordingly.

As an introvert myself, I feel the most connected with my team when I lead with empathy. It’s what sets me apart from my extroverted counterparts, and gives me the ability to encourage the introverts on my team to own their power. Doing so, I’ve seen my teams flourish in ways they likely wouldn’t be able to if they didn’t have the space to speak up.

Showing up for your team with a deeper understanding of what each member brings to the table and what tools they need to do that, strengthens your skills as a leader. When you build trust with your team, it opens the pathways for greater growth.

If you want to hear more on this topic and topics like this, follow me on LinkedIn.


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