Common Purpose / 28 February 2024

Can Introverts Be Good Leaders? With These Key Tools, Absolutely

Here's how to harness your introverted superpowers.


When you think of a great leader, you’ll likely think of someone who is loud and outspoken. Or someone who can speak flawlessly without cue cards to hundreds, if not thousands of people. Or someone who can command the attention of a room simply by walking in confidently. Or someone who isn’t afraid to share their opinion spontaneously in a room full of people, even when it’s not the most popular.

It would be safe to say that an introvert would not like to partake in any of the above activities, thank you very much. And rightly so. The traditional perception is that extraverts get their energy from being around people, while introverts get their energy from being alone, or at least only the people they are really comfortable with.

It goes without saying that there’s a spectrum to this.  Some people (often referred to as ambiverts) get energy from both scenarios, and perhaps others get energy in other ways. But whatever way you look at it, it’s easy to assume that some of the greatest leaders in our world today must be extraverts, right? Well, not quite.

In actual fact, many great leaders may have at least some, if not all introverted sides to them – and whether they do it consciously or unconsciously, it’s because they are harnessing the power that an introverted personality can bring. So, if you find yourself relating to an introverted personality, read on to find out how you too can harness its potential.

First and foremost, embrace being an introvert

A leader who is self-aware will make a much greater (and more positive!) impact than those who are less self-aware. That’s because they are in tune with their own abilities, and they know which methods will put them in the best frame of mind to operate effectively. Being an introvert is not a limitation, it just means that you function and do your best work a little differently to extraverts. By being aware and embracing this difference so that it works for you can be a huge advantage.

So, if you’ve identified yourself as an introvert, lean into it! Taking time alone (and not feeling guilty for it) to better understand yourself will make you more mindful and intentional as a leader.

Network for quality, not quantity

The last thing any introvert wants is a full diary, so spending all your time attending networking events or having back to back catch ups with new people aren’t going to do you any favours. The good news is that if you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to! Instead, we recommend spending time building quality relationships with a select few people who make you feel valued, and with those who can offer support when it’s needed.

It doesn’t matter if other leaders in your industry have 500 contacts while you have 50. What matters is who those contacts are, because chances are only 50 of that extroverted leader’s 500 are willing to give them the kind of support that will help them get ahead.

Communication is key

It’s no secret that communication is key when it comes to effective leadership, and while introverts might struggle a little more when it comes to speaking out or being frank in front of people, they do have the capacity to hold conversations that are purpose-driven with smaller groups of people – and sometimes, that’s a superpower in itself.

If you lean into your introverted self, you’ll understand that less can definitely be more. Put more time and effort into the smaller interactions, be they in-person or written, and tailor each interaction to suit the people you are addressing. By spending more time doing this, you are making your agenda ever-clearer to others and engaging them on a deeper level – far more so than if you were to speak at large to a room full of people that have differing communication styles and perspectives.

Active listening is your superpower

Sometimes, taking a step back to listen what others are saying without interrupting or feeling obliged to say your piece can take you further than you’d expect. As an introvert, you’ll likely be a great listener, and even better, you like listening to others. Harness this as your superpower in leadership: by really stopping to listen to the perspectives, concerns or ideas of others, you can open your mind to new possibilities and identify new ways to move forward.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that introverted leaders can be just as impactful as extroverted leaders, particularly if they harness the tools that come with such a personal trait. So, go forth and tackle the leadership journey as an introvert with open arms, you might just find yourself becoming the most impactful person in the room without having to raise your voice once


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