Why Introverts Can Make Great Leaders

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If you’re the founder of a start-up, there’s a chance you might not be one of those naturally outgoing types that companies typically look for to lead a company. And if that’s the case, it might be a good thing.

According to Laurie Helgoe, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, there are some circumstances in which an introvert might be an ideal leader — and a start-up might be one of those places. Here’s why.

A start-up is typically full of self-motivated people looking to make a difference. In that case, a leader who’s not afraid to get out of the way and let his or her employees shine might be the best person to be in charge. As Helgoe puts it, “introverts are more effective leaders of proactive employees. When you have a creative, energetic work force, an introvert is going to draw out that energy better.”

Helgoe also notes that teams do best when there’s a mixture of introverts and extroverts, which she calls “crucial for a healthy workplace.”

So if you’re not a “born leader,” but were thrust into a position of leadership because you had a great idea and the business plan to pull it off, don’t sweat it. Be yourself and focus on your own strengths — and take pleasure in watching those around you shine because of it.

Adapted from “You Can Stop Faking It: It’s O.K. to Be an Introvert” by Don Tennant at IT Business Edge.

BethBuelow like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

The key to an introvert's success is found in that last sentence: "Be yourself and focus on your own strengths — and take pleasure in watching those around you shine because of it." As an introvert entrepreneur, I've found that things move forward most smoothly and naturally when I work with my strengths and focus on shining the light on other people (whether they're clients, colleagues or collaborators). It's not about me; it's about my message. I often return to Jim Collin's classic "Good to Great" and his description of Level 5 Leaders. While he never uses the word "introvert" (and I'd be wrong to *assume* these leaders were introverts), what I notice is that the traits he found in these leaders are often displayed by introverted leaders as well... particularly putting the team/company at the forefront and preferring to be the "workhorse," not the show horse." As we learn to seek out and value people who have a quieter charisma, we'll see a culture shift (in our workplaces and our society) that will continue to expand how we define "leader."


@BethBuelow Boy, "Good to Great was my first thought too (as it is in many cases).  I think one to make sure as an entrepeur is that even as an introvert you have some type of sales channel.  Being an introvert doesn't sink a leader of a start-up, but not being able to sell and not having an alternative can be deadly.

Great post and comment.