Leadership is not a concept typically associated with introverts, as most people assume extroverts -- known for being more social, outgoing and outspoken -- are destined to be better organizational leaders and CEOs. This assumption is not entirely correct, however, as introverts can make excellent leaders by leveraging the very traits that define them. They may not always be excellent public speakers or risk-takers, but they can leverage their unique strengths, such as their penchant for listening carefully or being cautious, to become excellent choices for leadership roles.
These seven entrepreneurs share some of the most effective ways introverts can use their innate traits to their advantage in the pursuit of becoming great leaders.
Use your gift of listening.
"My business partner is the extrovert and I am definitely the introvert," says Nicholas Bull, co-founder of Propaganda Premium E-Liquid, explaining how he and his partner are complementing each other by dividing between them the tasks each are good at. "He can do the media interviews, while I'm good at meeting with staff individually, listening to concerns and collaborating on solutions."
Bull underlines that as a former employee himself, he is aware of how important it is to be seen and heard by management. This is why he leverages his innate gift of listening when communicating with his staff. "As a boss, you can do that much more effectively in a quiet one-on-one conversation," he says.
Ensure effective communication.
As opposed to extroverts who tend to think out loud, introverts really take their time to internally craft a very specific and crystal-clear message that will get the job done from the get-go, thinks OneIMS president Solomon Thimothy.
"That's why I think that introverts have tremendous leadership potential," Thimothy explains. In addition to being effective communicators, they can organize the work of the entire team hyper-efficiently and smoothly, which is a great advantage for any business, he says.
Build thoughtful relationships.
This penchant for introspection also plays an important role when it comes to building relationships with the team, says Craft Impact co-founder and CEO Traci Beach. "While outgoing, extroverts may not be as approachable as a thoughtful, introspective leader who is more focused on listening," she says.
Beach explains that introverts are uniquely able to develop deeper relationships with individuals, which gives them the ability to understand the underlying sentiments and morale of a workforce. "A quiet leader can be well-positioned to inspire trust and motivation."
"Humility is an underappreciated trait of leaders," says Jordan Conrad, founder and publisher of Writing Explained, underlining how important it is that introverted leaders tend to share their accomplishments with the team, which has a great effect on workplace morale.
This, in turn, can significantly improve team productivity, Conrad explains: "By making others feel a part of the process, your team will be eager to take on new projects and go above and beyond because they are now getting part of the credit."
Leverage your empathy.
Alongside humility, empathy is arguably one of the most prominent traits in introverted people, and this is especially useful for introverts in leading roles as it can help develop better relationships and improve communication, thinks Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc. founder and CEO Nicole Munoz.
"Making empathy a key component of your leadership style and company culture is a fantastic way to leverage the benefits of being more introverted," Munoz says. "It's a different form of inspiration, one that inspires not only confidence, but also deeper trust, and that ultimately will create real loyalty."
Develop authoritative knowledge.
Introverts tend to be quiet, observant and focused, and these are the very traits that can help them become experts in their fields and give them a competitive advantage, thinks Shaun Conrad, founder and publisher of My Accounting Course.
"Their keen ability to study their surroundings and gain knowledge about their business, product and industry gives them an advantage over their competitors," Conrad explains. "Knowledge is power, and introverts' talent for focusing intensely on understanding issues can give them the upperhand."
Lead by example.
"I tend to think of myself as an introvert," Bell + Ivy co-founder and president Zach Binder says, explaining that he was never the type of leader who could rally the team behind a shared goal or joint project with a big motivational speech.
Instead, Binder aims to lead by example. "I pride myself on coming in each day and getting my work done to the best of my abilities. I would like to think that that rubs off on those around me," he concludes.