If the number of views of Susan Cain's Tedx talk is any indication, then a discussion about introverts and extroverts trumps even the latest scuttlebutt about leadership, fundraising or unicorns. There are many articles, tools and thought pieces related to where your personality is most dominant. I am sure each of you has an idea of which one you are.
But is that the most productive analysis to determine how your personality and your leadership style are meshed?
Let me start by sharing that Carl Jung the noted Swiss psychiatrist who popularized these concepts never intended this to be measured on one continuum where your strength in one meant you were weaker in the other. I think it is a disservice to you and your leadership style to force your personality to be defined primarily as an introvert or an extrovert.
I have connected with over 1,000 entrepreneurs at The Startup Factory (my seed investment & mentor program here in RTP, NC) and I can share with you that leadership style is a complex and multi-variable beast. Layer in time of day and situational circumstances and this much is obvious--your leadership personality can be switched from introvert to extrovert like a light switch.
So, if great leaders channel different aspects of their personality when needed, is there one trait that every introvert must have in order to be successful? I believe that every leader must have the ability to effectively communicate their vision in public. Did your brain just explode and your heart start racing?
The good news is that there are over 450,000 related articles on the search term "introvert fear of public speaking" with many relating tips and tricks to overcome that fear. Don't despair; you are in a large club of people who dread the very notion of speaking in public. My one tip for you is--do it and do it often. I promise you the more you do it the better you get and that your fear will subside. Start with meetups (where the audience is filled with people you already relate to) and volunteer to share your startup journey at your local college as a guest speaker in one of the entrepreneur classes (they have to be there and have to listen).
Though no one would ever classify me as an introvert--I have plenty of introverted moments and these moments manifest themselves when in large groups of people. Public speaking (large groups of people) is something that has come late to me. After hundreds of public speeches, I was totally freaked out when asked to do my first Tedx talk. As you know, Ted talks have a special tone and rhythm and I wanted to capture and frankly nail that as well as tell my story about co-founding MapQuest. Let me know what you think.
Are you an introverted leader who is still defining your leadership style? Remember, you are not 100% introvert or 100% extrovert, don't get fooled into thinking that you need to choose one and then define your leadership personality around that decision. You are both and great leaders find both when needed. But, all great leaders can speak in public. Get started now.