One thing that you have probably noticed me repeating is that we live in an extroverted world. Introverts need some love. When I think back to when I was working in banking, I constantly had people telling me that I needed to do this and that if I wanted to keep moving forward in the company. People were always trying to give me advice on how to be a good leader because they thought that I needed it (even though I wasn’t asking). Why? Because there’s this crappy misconception that introverts don’t make good leaders.
My experience with the PACE Palette
I remember one of the first manager meetings I ever went to with my peers. Our learning and development team came in to have us take the PACE Palette. To break it down pretty quickly, it’s basically a personality test that breaks you into 4 different colors and helps to identify traits and strengths that led to successes in order to keep harnessing and enhancing them. While everyone has a little bit of each of the 4 colors, naturally they tend to identify with one the most. It breaks you up into these 4 colors:
- Red: These people tend to be impatient, risk takers, and action-oriented. In my mind, the people who associate most with red are the hardcore extroverts.
- Yellow: These people are detail oriented, planners, follow policies and procedures, and checklist makers.
- Blue: These people are sensitive to others’ needs, energized by being around other people, and embrace their emotions. In my experience blue tends to be made up of ambiverts.
- Green: Greens tend to be problem solvers, enjoy working alone, and need to know the why behind things. I associate most with green and from the others I’ve known, this group tends to be more introverted.
There is so much more to the PACE Palette, but for the sake of my point, that’s really all the info you need LOL. My manager was a red and tended to hire and enjoy working with similar people. So, the majority of my peers were all red. There was only one other manager that was a green. Regardless of the successes that we had, we were pretty much the black sheep of the flock. Our peers constantly tried to “coach” us and give us advice because… well we were introverts, so we must need help.
To be upfront about it, they never bothered to get to know us. We had high engagement and good relationships with our teams, were capable of bringing out the best out in people, and all around knew what the f*%k we were doing. But, we were introverts. They ASSumed that introverts don’t make good leaders.
What’s the difference between a leader and a boss?
I found an infographic on Pinterest like a year ago that gave the perfect breakdown. Of course, I can’t find it now, so I’ll just put it in my own words. To me, a boss is someone who tells you what to do. They’re usually in it for themselves and sees their team as subordinates. A leader is out in the trenches with their teams. It’s all about “we” and “us”, rather than “you” or “I.” They have the ability to spark that special something in their team and inspire them. I think you can probably guess which one the majority of my peers were.Anybody can be a boss, but not everyone has what it takes to be a leader. -The Wandering IntrovertClick To Tweet
Ditch the misconception: introverts don’t make good leaders
At least in my experience in the business world, our extroverted peers tend to think we are incapable of strong leadership. Girl, you’re crazy! Introverts don’t make good leaders.
Just like I’ve mentioned in other posts, they feel like their way is the best way and have a hard time understanding that there is any other way. It’s time for some truth-bombs:
- Introverts listen: Do you want to know what makes your team super engaged and working hard? IF YOU LISTEN TO THEM. Everyone wants to be heard and know that their opinions and struggles matter to you. It’s a key difference maker between a boss and a leader. Even if you work on your own, the same concept applies, just with your customers. People need to feel heard. Listen to them and take action accordingly.
- Introverts tend to be humble: Introverts know and are okay with the fact that it’s not just a one-man show. They’re open to new ideas and know that their way may not be the best or only way to do it. If they screw up, odds are they’re probably going to admit and not pass the blame. People tend to respect that in a leader. P.S. I’m by no means saying that our extroverted friends aren’t or can’t be humble.
- They keep a cool head: If you’re dealing with a crisis, you probably want an introvert in your corner. They tend to stay calm, maintain a soothing presence, and have a clear plan on how to move forward. To me, this is one of the most important things about being a leader. Shit happens and if you don’t stay calm and cool-headed the people around you are going to let their panic take over. However, by remaining calm and cool, your people are going to feel more at ease and comfortable, allowing everyone to keep moving forward.
- Introverts think before they act: This is why they’re able to keep a cool head. There are times when passion can get the best of them, but most of the time they take time to think through the situation. It’s important that they take the best course of action and they want to think through their plan or conversation before moving forward. Doing this helps to ensure that they don’t act too rashly. It’s not a fun experience when your boss starts screaming at you because they didn’t take the time to think about the repercussions.
I thought you said introverts don’t make good leaders…
There is one thing that kind of sucks about being an introverted leader.
Introverts like to have harmony. They don’t like to make people unhappy and can have a hard time telling people “no.” Guess what that means? It could be your boss asking you to take on additional responsibilities without incentive. Or it could be a customer asking you to do something extra for them. Introverts get taken advantage of far too often. It still doesn’t mean that introverts don’t make good leaders.
For my introverted leaders out there: Do you want to know something else? Letting people take advantage of you is a quick way to get burnt out and resentful. Allowing people to take advantage of you will turn into a big downward spiral. It may only happen once or twice, but once they know they can get you to say yes, they’re going to keep coming. As introverts, we need to find that healthy balance of remaining true to ourselves, but also setting boundaries.
Still think that introverts don’t make good leaders?
I’m not going to bother recounting the many introverted leaders in our world since I already did it a few times in the other parts of this series. (You can check out post numero uno right here) Extroverts are not the only ones capable of being good leaders. Everybody has their own special something that they bring to the table. “Introvert” and “Leader” should be just as cohesive as “Extrovert” and “Leader.”