In a world filled with outgoing, sociable, and charismatic leaders lies a large population of people whose secret weapons have the power to change organizations for the better. Introverts can be highly effective influencers when they use their natural strengths in the workplace rather than always forcing themselves to take on extroverted personality traits; however, being flexible and adapting to the environment and needs of the organization is crucial.Recently, leadership and organizational research studies have begun to highlight the ways in which introverts have strong leadership abilities and are capable of being as good as, or, in some instances, better leaders than extroverts. The unique strengths and traits of introverts have a powerful place in organizational leadership and should be honed and utilized rather than ignored. There are many insights about why organizations should analyze and assess their leadership needs and how they can do so, as well as how introverted employees and hiring staff can learn to apply introverted characteristics to important leadership positions.
In order to best understand the issues and solutions surrounding introverts in organizational leadership it is important to discuss the psychology of introversion and extroversion. Introversion is considered a disposition rather than a behavior, and their solitary nature is not a limiting or definitive trait. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, first published in 1962, describes introversion and extroversion in terms of where people derive their energy. Introverts draw energy from within and enjoy time alone. The time that they spend alone allows them to think introspectively and to give careful consideration to creative solutions. It also enables them to get more done and sustain more energy than those who live out loud and socialize easily and often. Psychologist Carl Jung’s personality theory analyzes introverts as having a preference for sensing, analytics, details, and facts, and they process these thoughts internally to create an inner vision. They are careful observers of the world around them, which gives them an advantage of clarity. They need time to consolidate their thoughts and observations before participating in conversation. Keep in mind: introversion does not equate to shyness. Shy people do not necessarily prefer to be alone, but they are anxious to interact with others. It is important to know the difference between introversion and shyness because the common misconception that they are the same attributes can have a negative impact on how they are seen as leaders.
So, how do introverts rise to the top in an extrovert-dominated corporate world? How do human resource professionals and organization executives seek out and hone the skills of their introverted employees in order to develop them as organizational leaders? The best solution is to hire industrial-organizational psychologists or organizational development consultants to implement change strategies to include introverts as organizational leaders. These experts produce and sometimes even help facilitate training programs for introverted employees to help them learn effective communication, understand common attributes of both introverts and extroverts, and develop their networking skills. They also create training seminars for talent managers, organizational leaders, and executives to help them to learn how to identify introverted behaviors, the unique strengths of introverts and how they can benefit organizations as leaders, and how to effectively communicate with and engage introverted employees. Corporate leadership experts at the award winning Dale Carnegie Training organization develop psychological assessments that determine leadership styles, strengths, and weaknesses in employees. These assessments are then evaluated and the data is used to help organizations fit the best, not necessarily the most extroverted, leaders for a specific group. Communication, motivation, productivity, and networking training is then carried out to ignite effective organizational collaboration.
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