Are you an introvert? As I mentioned in my post about Tools to Know Who You Are, I am. I’ve known this for a long time, but last Fall I was reminded when I talked to a career coach about some things I’d been struggling with. Things like why in certain environments I am quiet even though I feel fully capable or why I react negatively to those who are never quiet in meetings. My career coach did not even need a test to frame it as introvert tendencies.
Introverts are something every corporate office needs. In general, introverts are more thoughtful in their responses since they don’t think out loud. We internalize what is going on around us and listen more before saying what we think. We may even notice more how others are reacting to news or an interaction which can make us the peacekeepers. Being introverted does not equal shy or weak!
That said, working in a corporate environment can sometimes be challenging. To be heard, you do sometimes need to be the loudest in a room. Our society in general rewards extroverted behavior with positions of leadership whether that is valid or not. I’ve managed to navigate around this and have held positions of leadership over the last 10+ years so I thought I’d give you a few tips on how to do it too!
Tips to be a leader as an introvert
- Focus on 1:1 connections. If you get quiet in meetings, it doesn’t mean you can’t make real progress or connections with people. You’re the best in small groups or 1:1 so schedule time to meet with people that way – whether that be for coffee or lunch or even meetings on specific topics. You can be just as successful, if not more, at networking this way.
- Speak up with your ideas. Since you get your energy from quiet time, you are naturally good in the environment most likely to generate creative ideas. People need mental space and quiet to come up with original ideas. Don’t be afraid to share those ideas.
- Start the discussion. If you can, ask for information before a meeting or start an email thread with an agenda or notes for discussion so you can think through what points you want to make. This already puts you “on the field” before the meeting even begins.
- Sum it up. You likely are listening closely during the meeting and can interpret what people are really saying. This puts you in a great position to sum up what was accomplished and what the next steps may be for a meeting.
- Schedule quiet time. I get my best work done when I haven’t been interacting a lot beforehand. If you have a project you need to tackle, think about scheduling time on your calendar to tackle it in the morning before you are mentally drained from interacting with others. I get into the office early to ensure I get this time.
Go out there and be proud to be an introvert! Have other tips? I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments.