174. Leading as an Introvert

About this Podcast

Ep. 174 – In this episode of the Manager Track Podcast, I will be pulling back the curtain on the topic of leading as an introvert. Not only will I challenge the notion that extroversion is a requirement of effective leadership, but I’ll also reveal some other common misconceptions about being an introverted leader. I’ll be diving into the benefits of introversion as a personality type and provide tips that will help introverted leaders leverage their strengths to become just as effective as their extroverted counterparts.

So if you’re an introvert who aspires to lead, are currently leading and worry about having to hide your introversion, or are simply curious about the dynamics of introverted leadership, this episode is for you.

Action Steps:

  • Recognize and debunk the myths surrounding introverted leadership.
  • Reflect on your own inclinations and understand that introversion and extroversion exist on a spectrum.
  • Focus on understanding your own strengths and leverage them, irrespective of where you fall on the introversion-extroversion scale.
  • Challenge the cultural biases and be aware of them, but don’t let them hold you back.
  • Embrace the unique qualities that introverted leaders bring to the table and understand how they can be harnessed for effective leadership.

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Episode 174 Transcript:

Ramona Shaw [00:00:00]:

This is episode 174 of the The Manager Track podcast. And this week, we’re gonna talk about leading as an introvert. all the benefits and disadvantages, things to pay attention to, and some misconceptions about what it means to lead or become a leader when you consider yourself more introverted than extroverted. Let’s dive in. Here’s the question. How do you successfully transition into your 1st official lead ship role, build the confidence and competence to lead your team successfully and establish yourself as a respected and trusted leader across the organization. That the question, and this show provides the answers. Welcome to the The Manager Track podcast.

Ramona Shaw [00:00:39]:

I’m your host Ramona Shaw, and I’m on a mission to create workplaces where work is not seen as a source of stress and dread, but as a source of contribution, connection, and fulfillment. And this transition starts with developing a new generation of leaders who know how to lead so everyone wins and grows. In the show, you learn how to think, communicate, and act Ask the confidence and confidently that you know you can be. Welcome to this episode of the manager track podcast. this week, I’m gonna talk about leading as an introvert. And one thing that I always find interesting, and I also got me thinking about this topic a little bit more was that recently is that over the last, I’m gonna say, 4 or 5 months, had it several in person workshops and events, And I’ve been meaning to talk about this topic on the show for quite a while, but more recently, as I was delivering a number of in person workshops and events, when people ask me about being an introverted leader and my experience with it and also noticing how a lot of people assume that I am personally more of an extrovert than an introvert because I run workshops and because I stand in front of a big group and I am with people and talking to people basically all day every day through the work of coaching and leadership development and training. But that is purely the assumption that I don’t like it, which is actually not true. We’ll get to some of these myths and misconceptions here in a moment.

Ramona Shaw [00:02:08]:

But I do wanna talk about what it means to lead as an introvert because too many people still think that it is a barrier to leadership, which it isn’t. And a lot of people also believe that leaders are generally more extroverted and maybe should be more extroverted in order to be effective and motivate and inspire others. All that, not true, but I wanna talk about why and what actually are some of the considerations that you do need to make because being more introverted than extrovert, that means that you have to maybe be a little bit uncomfortable or lean into some of the situations that you might not prefer just as an extrovert or someone more extroverted and introverted will have to stretch and adapt a little bit in some other areas that as a more introverted leader, comes really natural to you. So it’s a complete back and forth, but let me pause here for a second because I feel like I’m already diving into the topic. I’m I’m somewhat passionate about this topic, so you might pick that up. But but I wanna be structured here in this episode and talk a little bit about What does it actually mean to be introverted versus extroverted? What are some of the cultural biases that we have? And then I’m gonna talk about the actual benefits of being an introvert to make sure that you also understand how that serves you as a strength in your leadership, especially if you’ve been holding back on some leadership responsibilities because you’re worried you might not like it, or you might not be cut cut out or good at it. you consider yourself more extroverted. And then finally, we’re gonna talk about some of the strategies or tools to optimize your effectiveness as a leader.

Ramona Shaw [00:03:51]:

where you can balance out some of the maybe less appealing aspects of leadership that more introverted leaders have a harder time with than extroverted leaders. Okay. So with all that said, let us get started. Okay. With all that said, let’s get to the juicy part. So first of all, being introverted does not mean being shy. And, gosh, I get this all the time. People think being introvert means being shy, or it means that you don’t like people.

Ramona Shaw [00:04:22]:

both of that is not true. Now, of course, you can be an introvert and not like people, not like talking to people, you could be shy, and hence, people will consider you an introvert, or you might even label yourself as an introvert. But in terms of the proper use of these terms, being on their more introverted scale on that spectrum from introverted to extroverted, if you lean more toward introversion, that simply means that you find it more energizing being by yourself and being introspective or being alone or just spending time thinking or doing things as an individual or in small groups and often one on one maybe three people, and that is energizing. Now more extroverted leaders will tend to find a more energizing being in larger groups, talking, collaborating, chatting, and there isn’t really a limit to society group. They find conferences really energizing and they’re full of ideas and inspiration versus a more introverted person may need to reflect on their own and have some quiet downtime after a conference. It’s really about how you feel on an energetic level being in large group versus being alone, what fuels your energy and what may deplete your energy. It has nothing to do with how good are you and with people, how much you like people, whether you’re shy or not, that has nothing to do with introversion versus extroversion. Also, This is a spectrum.

Ramona Shaw [00:05:56]:

And in the Myers Briggs, 16 types assessment, there’s this one that many of you know, there’s this one dimension that the assessment looks at. which is from intervention to action, and it is a scale from 0 to 100. Now if you’re above 50, depending on the scale, it would be more extroverted than introverted. If you’re below the 50, you might be more introverted than extroverted. Now if you did that in assessment and you laid out a 90, for example, that means, yeah, in most of the times that you operate, you tend to wanna do things on your own is what that result would indicate versus if you’re on a 90 for extroversion, most of the time you’d like to be among people. Now if you are at a 60 on that scale from 0 to 100, at a 60, you could do almost look at it as percentage. Yeah. 60% of the time You might like to be more on the extroverted side and among people.

Ramona Shaw [00:06:50]:

And then 42% of the time, you might find yourself wanting to be more — reflect on your own or or have some quiet time. Slightly more extroverted than introverted, but, again, it’s really hard to tell because you have both 60 forties, a pretty balanced split. And When we use those assessment, I’m always really mindful of people who take, like, a myerspeaks or a 16 types assessment who then say, oh, it gives me on that four letter code, I am an i or I am an e, and that means yeah, I am inter introverted or I’m extroverted, and that’s becoming the label. And now the more that you put that label on yourself, the more you’re my see yourself in these positions, you might actually start to act out that label and it reaffirms itself. So that’s of no use. It’s also really drastically oversimplifying what this assessment measures, and it’s just not black and white. Okay. There’s a lot of gray in between.

Ramona Shaw [00:07:46]:

Like, that’s really important to consider. Also, because when we think of intervention as a problem or something problematic or difficult in leadership, No one is a 100% introverted as well as no one is a 100% extrovert. So when you notice, oh, it’s it’s spectrum. You also know you have allocations, or you have the ability to move left or right, and you have certain allocation where or certain times where you feel more inclined to be introverted and more other times where you feel more inclined to be extroverted. So for me personally, when I do these workshops or when I talk to groups throughout the day and week, I love it. That’s the first thing. I really enjoy it. And I’ve had moments like this throughout my entire career, including how I used to teach group fitness classes, when I was going to college and all that.

Ramona Shaw [00:08:34]:

That to me was energizing, but I also know that after a day or 2, of being among people, I just wanna go be alone. Like, at a conference, I know that at the end of it, when there’s an event or a happy hour, I really need to decide and choose to go. It’s not I can’t just listen to my own gut feeling or my own inclination because then I would just wanna hide. in my hotel room under the covers in my own hotel room, ideally, with room service. So that may be my preference, but I know better. and I would go out and network. And then once I’m in the conversations, it doesn’t bother me. I’m not shy.

Ramona Shaw [00:09:13]:

It’s not that I don’t like it. I do enjoy it, but I also know how to recharge and that will be on my own or in a very intimate setting. And now at the same time, despite the fact that this is a spectrum, despite the fact that none of that has to do with your leadership abilities, there are a lot of leaders that we know who are more on the extroverted side, and then there’s a lot of leaders equal amount, 2 or more on the introverted side. However, there is a cultural bias. For example, in 2006, Azeri was conducted about this, and 65% of senior corporate leaders viewed introversion as a barrier to career growth in terms of the leadership career ladder. Now we have to be aware of that. especially as an introverted leader, even if I wished it wasn’t so, we can’t deny that there is this cultural bias. So if you forget or diminish the importance of your ability to adapt and to know when is it that you need to show up in a more extroverted way in order to be effective, that may make it harder for you to gain the support from senior leaders.

Ramona Shaw [00:10:22]:

Not always, but it’s something to be aware of. Right? And I just want you to be well equipped on this. That study was about perception. when it actually comes to effectiveness, in fact, what research shows is actually that effectiveness does not correlate to either being more extroverted versus introverted, as I said earlier. However, in combination to where that team’s leader lance on that spectrum, that does matter when we have non proactive employees. So employees who aren’t very eager to engage and ideate and be innovative and challenge the status quo. they are maybe a little bit more reactive or more execution driven, or they are in their own fields and expertise in their own domain, but maybe a little less outspoken or challenging to the status quo. that’s when an extroverted leader will likely do better.

Ramona Shaw [00:11:22]:

If you have a very proactive engaged innovative team that’s challenging the status quo and will always wanna and will want to bring up ideas and be heard Research shows that an introverted leader will be the better match. So it is about the mix between the team’s overall dynamic and the leader’s predisposition, and that does matter. So that’s important to consider. If you are leading or if you are building a team, not just assess what’s the overall team dynamic, but also recognize that some people on your team may be more proactive and they will require you to be a listener, to be thoughtful, and curious. And those are tendencies that more introverted leaders will demonstrate in a stronger way. If you have team members who are less proactive, you might need to do more of the talking and engage more and collaborate more and create that kind of team So some of the benefits of being more introverted are the ability to listen because you tend to want to hear from others. versus wanting to talk and collaborate, you are likely more thoughtful in your words and actions. And, again, not always.

Ramona Shaw [00:12:42]:

but you may prefer quality connections. So these closer relationships matter on a 1 to 1 basis and get to know people individually. You may also, not always, but you may also be more empathic to those around you. Those are overall pretty broad stroke strengths that we see in more introverted leaders. And you might have picked up on this. All the things that I just mentioned are really important leadership skill. As a caring and driven manager, I know you want to strengthen your leadership skills, advance your career, and lead a high performing engaged team. And in order to do that, as a leader, you need to lead with a system, not by shooting from your hips or reacting to everyone else around you.

Ramona Shaw [00:13:29]:

To do so, you need to 1st learn what should go into a leadership system and second develop your own. Now the good news is that I teach you one must have part in your leadership system in a concise, actionable, and yet comprehensive course focused on running successful one on one meetings with your direct reports. It includes over 67 minutes of tactical leadership training plus a set of resources to make this as easy and immediately applicable for the video lessons or listen to it through a private podcast feed on your phone. You can get your hands on this course, which I want every single manager to have. for a nominal $19 at ramonashaw.com/oneone. That’s two times the number 1. You can check the show notes, but the details are head on over to Ramona Shaw.com/11 to get started right now. So there is nothing about being introverted that is a barrier in your effectiveness.

Ramona Shaw [00:14:35]:

The only barrier of being an introverted leader is the cultural bias. And that’s the thing that you have to be mindful about. So In order to do so, on one hand, just optimize for your own energy flow. That means consider recharge moments and especially if you’re in an office or if you are at a conference or you have a job where you have to talk a lot to people all day. which most introverted leaders or people further on that spectrum of introversion will want to avoid. But if you are, just plan in for recharge moments. make sure that you block out time or you can do deep thinking and deep work and you’re all by yourself undistracted. And by the way, those quick questions or the Slack prompts or the teams, bing, things, things, and all the Zoom calls, that can be exhausting.

Ramona Shaw [00:15:25]:

So if you feel at the end of the day, oh my gosh. I never had a moment to myself. I feel totally depleted, plan it in. Be mindful about what drives and fuels your energy and then arrange your schedule accordingly. Also, share your preferences with your team. So if your team doesn’t know how you like to communicate and what your natural tendencies are, or why, for example, you like to talk about something and then think about it on your own before bringing it back in collaborating or brainstorming in a group, those are important things for your team to know. They will be able to adapt when they understand your preference and the reason for those. So that was the second tip on how to optimize for your introversion.

Ramona Shaw [00:16:09]:

The third one is to lean into the things that are uncomfortable, and this is about combating that cultural bias. when people think, well, he could never elite a team or collaborate or be in front of a group and get people inspired and motivated, because that person is way too introverted. If that is how people would describe you, that may actually be a barrier in terms of your leadership career and growth. So find moments where you can fully lean into it. Even if you know, this will feel draining or uncomfortable. You prefer to do something And then the 4th tip is to prepare. Don’t be caught off guard for those moments, but be prepared when you’re in big meetings And you know a lot of people who process information by talking. These tend to be, not always, but tend to be more extroverted people.

Ramona Shaw [00:16:55]:

And then the more introverted people tend to process by thinking quietly and silently. And if you know you’re going to walk into a meeting where there’s a lot of talkers and a lot of group discussions. Just prepare yourself accordingly. So what are the key messages you want to bring across? Who do you need to get on board? You might wanna do some informal behind the scenes check ins and lobbying for your ideas. So it doesn’t all depend on you getting everyone convinced of your idea or initiative in a meeting. So they’re all ways to prepare for such moments to then show up and really demonstrate your ability to be effective as a leader to get people aligned on board, excited, inspired, and so forth. By the way, if you have all hands that you’re leading or bigger team meetings once a month, or you’re contributing to an all hands meeting or a big company wide meeting. Yeah.

Ramona Shaw [00:17:48]:

If you’re introverted, just plan for a practice it so that when you show up, you have that energy that transfers, and people know that you are capable if you want to and need to. The 6th tip here is leverage 1 or 1 conversations. I just touched on this a little bit with the informal behind the scenes conversations. but really lean into it as a more introverted leader. You’re like really good in the one on one conversations. And if you know, this is a strength to build relationships and alliances use those, half the conversations 101 are in small groups, especially leading up to maybe a bigger discussion. around the decision that needs to be made. Another one is to use a written communication.

Ramona Shaw [00:18:30]:

Oftentimes, these days in companies where they’re hybrid or remote, they’re redesigning their internal communication. And sometimes I get asked, hey, should I record a video? Should I do it live? Should I write an email? What’s the best approach for me to inform the team or the company on the bigger themes and topics or updates that I wanna share. And the answer generally is people can see life Great. If they see you on a video, they may also relate more to you than in writing. But if you’re not that good of a speaker, or you have a hard time bringing that energy across, but you’re a really good writer. And people love and just soak up your emails and talk about it afterwards, and you’re really able to craft a strong message and put in a story or 2 and make him relatable and motivating Gosh. Right. Use that format instead of trying to have life updates of life or video messages.

Ramona Shaw [00:19:35]:

Right? So really lean into your strengths. Not totally hiding from the public, but be mindful about how can you use the channels and formats that work well for you. So it’s a balancing act or a bit of a tight rope here that you have to walk. So let me quickly recap. The 6 tips were consider recharge moments, share your preferences, and work style with your team, and the reason behind your decisions or preferences. lean into uncomfortable things and situations so that you’re demonstrating especially to senior leaders that when needed and when called for, you can absolutely be the person in front of the room. Be prepared for group discussions and decision making processes where a lot of people are involved and a lot of people have a lot to say leverage 1 on 1 conversations or smaller groups, and that may also include the behind the scenes and informal conversations. And then choose the formats and the channels that work well for you.

Ramona Shaw [00:20:29]:

Overall, being an introverted leader is not a problem and is not a barrier to leadership anywhere on that spectrum where you land from introversion to extroversion, at any point, there’s some advantages and some disadvantages. If you look at what intervention extrovision actually means and how that may show up for you personally. And so with that, it’s all about step 1 develop self awareness understand, maybe take an assessment if you’re unsure, understand your natural preferences, and to really own the strength that comes from that. And then step 2, adapt for effectiveness. When you have to present, bring out all that you got in those moments to energize and presenting is a skill like any other skills that can be learned So our facilitation, group discussions, any of these things, how good you are at them, and whether you can become good at them has nothing do with your introversion or extroversion. Yes. Some people are more inclined to do well naturally versus others, but those are skills that can be learned like any other skill. So figure out where does your introversion potentially get in the way of how you’re being perceived or how effective you are as a leader.

Ramona Shaw [00:21:51]:

And then simply work on adapting in key moments so that you can lean into the discomfort and optimize your approach. All the while leaning into your strength and fully owning your knock show strength that may come to you personally in the way that introversion shows up to you. Again, there’s no one size fits all. Interversion extroversion comes in many shapes and forms underlying. It’s about the energy, but the way that shows up in actions and behaviors is different from one person to the other. If you are unsure where you land or if you feel like you’re introverted, but you need some help identifying what are those moments or what are those potential blind spots that may get in the way of your career? Let’s chat. This is something that coaching can absolutely help with and be very effective. Then let’s chat.

Ramona Shaw [00:22:45]:

Coaching is the perfect tool to address these questions and to help you bridge the gap in skill development and adapt to optimize your effectiveness. We dropped the link to schedule strategy call for us to connect and talk more about what coaching could look like and your personal situation in the show notes. And I hope this was helpful. They take some insight out of this conversation that was new, refreshing, hopefully, also at confidence in building that if you’re an introverted leader or want to be a leader and you know that you are more inclined to be introverted, Do not ever let that get in the way of your ambitions and fulfilling your potential. I will be back next week with an other episode of dementia track podcast and we’ll talk then. Take care and chat. If you enjoyed this episode, then check out 2 other awesome resources to help you become a leader people love to work with. This includes my best selling book, the confident and competent new manager, which you can find on Amazon or @ramonashaw.com/book, and a free training on how to successfully lead as a new manager.

Ramona Shaw [00:23:53]:

You check it out at ramonashaw.com/masterclass. These resources in a couple more you’ll find in the show notes down below.

Reflection & Discussion Questions

Reflection & Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some misconceptions about introverted leaders? What is the truth?
  2. What are the benefits of being an introverted leader? How can introverts leverage their strengths in leadership roles?
  3. What strategies can introverted leaders use to build confidence and establish themselves as respected and trusted leaders across the organization?
  4. What are some practical tips or tools introverted leaders can use to optimize their effectiveness and successfully lead their teams?



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00:00 – Introduction to “Leading as an Introvert” Episode 174

01:30 – Debunking myths about introverts in leadership roles

02:30 – Definitions: introversion vs. extroversion

03:30 – Myers Briggs assessment: understanding introversion spectrum

05:00 – Ramona’s insights on personal introverted experiences

06:30 – Addressing the cultural bias towards extroverted leaders

07:30 – Leadership effectiveness isn’t tied to personality types

10:30 – Introverted leaders’ strengths and communication

13:00 – Introverted leaders’ energy management strategies

14:30 – Power of one-on-one chats and written communication

16:30 – Embracing introversion and overcoming biases

18:30 – Role of coaching for introverted leaders

20:30 – Importance of self-awareness in leadership.

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