My introvert confession:
When I was younger many of the above things seemed to be at odds with what you saw or heard that ‘successful’ leaders and people were doing. They had strong views; were quick decision makers; assertive (aggressive); impulsive; risk-taking; gregarious; loud; surrounded by lots of people etc.
So for a period of time I thought this meant that I would never be a successful leader or person.
Over the past few years as I’ve worked with leaders in organisations, and investigated and understood more, I now realise I was / am a leader – just a different type from the extroverted picture we are fed by the media.
Like the evening news which focuses on death, violence and drama, there tends to be a focus in the press on more extreme, extroverted examples of leadership (Richard Branson; Donald Trump etc) as they are more ‘exciting’ and newsworthy.
If you believed the news was a fair reflection of society you would have a skewed view of reality. The same is true of the way that the media portrays leadership. Many successful leaders achieve quietly and unobtrusively. But this isn’t exciting so you don’t hear a lot about them.
It’s time to rebalance the picture – to tune into an alternative channel. That channel shows that both extroverted and introverted leaders can be successful by understanding their respective strengths and blockers as well as how to get the best from people who are a different behavioural style.
That channel features examples of leaders who are able to get out of the way and allow their teams to flourish without needing to direct them; leaders who are great listeners and coaches; leaders who are able to work quietly and effectively without needing to tell everyone about it.
While the channel might not get top ratings for excitement and emotional outbursts, it might start to redress the current imbalance by providing a truer reflection of the mix of leadership styles – showing examples of humble and quieter introvert leaders as well as charismatic and assertive extrovert leaders.
It’s time to tune in to the new leadership channel and turn up the volume!