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Introvert Leaders #1: Confidence
Addressing the traits of introversion in a leadership role
Introverts can be excellent leaders, but they are often not the exemplar that first comes to mind when we think about the term “leader.”
My plan is to do a series of posts to address the unique issues of introverts in leadership roles.
The first issue is CONFIDENCE. Introverts build their confidence through logic and process—it is not a natural “know in my gut” sense of confidence.
First off, we can see the evidence that introverts can be successful leaders by looking at examples, including: Bill Gates, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Jane Goodall, J.K. Rowling, Ron Paul, and Elon Musk.
You might not identify with all of them, and none of them are perfect people (no one is perfectly perfect, after all), but they all had demonstrable success in their fields.
To build confidence in an introvert leader, I recommend a specific mindset shift. Do NOT force them out of their comfort zone—EXPAND their comfort zone. This requires incremental growth of the tasks and areas in which they are empowered to act as leaders, and providing as structure or template for their behaviors until they can develop enough expertise and experience to develop their own templates. But start those leadership roles in an area in which they have knowledge and/or experience—for example, coaching a new hire on the process the team uses in some facet of creating the work product.
This will work for both self-growth as an introvert leader and for growing the introverts on our team into more effective leaders.