Whether you are the class clown or identified geek in the class, why do we automatically assume one cannot lead? There is plenty of research on the introvert and extrovert spectrum but what if it was about how you lead your team, rather than you.
I’m not buying the either-or debate. How you tailor your leadership approach to your people to maximize and leverage their strengths is more important. What if you embraced the approach that leadership is energy? It is drawing energy and amplifying creative juices from a different place.
Introverts draw their energy from their inner empire, extroverts amplify their qualities in more populated surroundings. Leadership preferences are neither wrong or better, nor good or bad. Both leaders can create and empower other leaders.
Let’s step into the inner revolution to delve deeper into 7 keys to lead your team:
1. Know thyself – self-awareness is the key
Self-awareness is the first step in mastery of your life. It’s an introspection, an inner revolution. As Socrates once said, “Know thyself”. The more you pay attention to your emotions and how you work, the better you will understand why you do the things you do. The more you know about your own habits, the easier it is to strengthen and expand them.
President Barack Obama masterfully crafted his execution as an introvert. If you carefully watched Obama’s behavior, his presence projected a calm confidence, learning by listening and honored his inner pull. Gary Vaynerchuck, runs one of the world’s hottest digital agencies, VaynerMedia, reminds us to “go all in on your strengths”. Know what you are good at and know what you suck at.
The leadership struggle between the leader you wish to be and the leader you really are, pervades most. Self-awareness allows us to draw the line in the sand, to open the door to accept what is rather than what should be. It will upset you, it will rattle your cage and likely press some buttons. The practice of self-awareness is necessary. You need to understand both and decide which path you will take.
2. The internal fire
When we delve into creating long term success, Forbes 1000 companies have demonstrated time after time that communicating vision is the foundation irrespective of where you sit on the introvert or extrovert spectrum. The vision provides the framework for your business. It’s the core of why you do what you do, where you want the company to go. Ultimately, the leader illuminates that path. The vision is the internal fire that fuels long term success.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
3. Create a culture of people
Creating success in the digital world, all leaders need to spend time expanding their unfamiliar zones. Get out of your way, engage and connect with people. Tap into your inner sanctum to explore and reflect on ideas. Research tells us that all successful entrepreneurs invest in time to organize their thinking, deconstruct what works and does not. Leaders maximize opportunities to create a culture of people.
4. Be like water
Have you ever seen a leader who carries themselves with poise, quiet strength and humility at the same time? A professional demeanor in their approach to life and a student of strength. Leaders turn mistakes into teachable moments; never stop or quit when faced with challenges. They adapt and overcome in the midst of the very challenge in the moment. They invest their energy on the solution rather than immersing into a problem saturated world. As Bruce Lee refers to be like water. Be ever-changing.
5. Depth not width
Leaders delight in meaningful connections and thrive in the inner sanctuary of the mind, heart and spirit. Depth is their advantage. They focus on depth, rather than superficiality. Digging deep, meaningful conversations and asking great questions to create a curiosity culture that supports and nurtures people learning and growth. The mere presence of a leader in the environment, curiously seeking authentic feedback promotes an environment where both people and business flourish.
“To have someone understand your mind is a different kind of intimacy.”
6. Stay in your own lane
Persistence, focus and staying in your own lane leave impactful legacies. Leaders honor the message, align with their values and celebrate you, not themselves. Through dignity and perseverance, through clarity and understanding, they bring people graciously along. With a calm presence and wisdom, they create a legacy of positive impact.
7. The most powerful person in the room is often the quietest
Deep thinkers have more meaningful conversations and present with a calm confidence in times of crisis. They won’t be into the rah-rah and they have much to say in a profound, influential and impactful way.
Susan Cain writes that introverts lead with “soft power”. Compelling leaders, they lead with few words so their actions speak louder. Thousands followed Gandhi because he led a movement in 1930s by speaking softly without carrying a big stick. He proved that one man has the power to take on an empire, using his vision, integrity and non-physical violence. Gandhi’s leadership created impact and influence by his symbolic protest designed to inspire more action.
Leadership is not about extrovert versus introvert. It’s about vision, passion and belief in the vision. It’s decision behavior. It’s about taking action for a cause bigger than you.
What traits do you believe make a great leader? Let us know by leaving a comment below!
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