Taking the Lead as an Introvert
Being an introvert in the workplace can have it’s share of challenges. Introverts gain their energy from alone time and peace; work is usually the antithesis of this. While it’s a common misconception that introverts are unsocial and dislike being around people altogether, it is true that lots of human interaction can leave an introvert in need of recharging and sometimes even a bit overwhelmed.
Science backs the distinction between introverts and extroverts too. In her article, Jane Burnett discusses challenges introverted employees can have on the job and why they exist, particularly in relation to leadership.
In other words, they tend to predict that group experiences will be harder for them than they might actually be, so they don’t try to take control during ‘informal leadership opportunities’.
So what is an introvert to do? We all know it’s a good thing to seize leadership opportunities in the workplace. Burnett offers a few tips:
- Step out of your comfort zone: Burnett suggests that introverts may like to take charge more than they realize. The only way to find out is to try! The more one experiences something, the more comfortable they’re likely to be with it. So, give it a shot and see what happens.
- Think about why you’re saying no: Is your reason for not taking the leadership opportunity rational? Or could your feelings of discomfort be playing the key part? There’s absolutely no shame in feeling anxious about stepping up, especially if it’s new. But try to weigh the positives with the negatives, and really consider why you want to opt out.
- Share your input towards the beginning of meetings: Introverts like to plan. Have your contribution ready before the meeting, and get it out in the open early. This way you’ll avoid the anxiety of waiting to share your thoughts, and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment for the rest of the meeting. Maybe you’ll contribute even more once you see how easy it was.
- Remember your strengths: Introverts bring so much to the table in the workplace. Remember that even if leading isn’t your greatest strength, you have other very valuable things to contribute.