How to be a good leader if you're an introvert

Written by: Georgina Bloomfield
Published on: 20 Jul 2016

The ability to lead others isn’t something most people know how to do overnight. Even the most extroverted among us struggle to manage effectively. Being able to lead others well is a skill that changes over time depending on the people you’re managing and the company you’re in. Company culture can play a huge part in how people should be managed. If you’re an introvert, the thought of leading others can be really daunting. However, as your career progresses you may be expected to lead a team from time to time. Here are a few tips on how to do the job well:


Get to know your team- but not in a David Brent sort of way

Breaking the ice with the team you’re leading is always a good idea. Try going out for a team lunch with them within the first week of your new position. This way you can get to know your team well outside of the work environment where things may feel a bit pressurised. Back in the work environment, it’s important to have weekly or monthly team meetings to make sure communication is working properly and nobody feels out of the loop. Managers who can’t communicate effectively and openly are automatically in the ‘bad leader’ category.

It sounds a bit clichéd but it’s worth remembering that your team are human just like you. They’re all different and possess varying personalities. Some of them may take longer to get to know than others. You can’t force a good working relationship but you can cultivate one over time. Regular one to one meetings with your staff are also a great way of getting to know them and being a good leader. Your staff will feel more listened to – and one to ones may feel a bit less daunting than having a huge team meeting.

Use your strengths

Listening is a great skill to have, especially if you’re not much of a talker. Have you ever felt that your manager doesn’t actually listen to you; that he/she simply listens so they can reply to what you’re saying instead of actually taking your words on board? If you’re a good listener, this is an invaluable skill to have to make you into a good leader.

Every manager has to have horrible conversations

Most of the time, leaders don’t like to have ‘those chats’ which can sometimes be awkward or taken the wrong way if you don’t say the right thing. If you’re disciplining someone you needn’t view the conversation as a form of impending hostility and conflict. It doesn’t need to be a battle; just a simple chat addressing the key points you need to cover. If it’s just a stern talk you’re giving to a staff member, then you shouldn’t have to escalate it into something it’s not. Alternatively, if you’re trying to relay a really strong warning to an employee who’s gone rogue then it’s important that you get your views across clearly and precisely. If you’re really unsure on how to proceed with a difficult conversation, speak to your manager. They may be able to give you some good ideas on how to speak to this particular individual. Perhaps they’ve dealt with them before and know how to get through to them. Never be afraid to accept help from others when you’re trying to be a good leader!

Be open to negotiation

Part of being a good leader is to sometimes concede on your point of view to keep others happy. Even if you know you’re 100 per cent correct and your method is better, try to think of what the situation looks like from the eyes of the opposition. The ability to empathise and come to a reasonable solution to a problem is always definitely the skills of a good leader in action.

Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is never easy – especially in the workplace. Try to see it as a new, fresh challenge for you to take on – you won’t be feeling uneasy forever. Practice talking to as many different people as possible (and not just from your own team). Things may not always go as planned and you will likely come across some difficulties along your career path to being a great leader. Be sure to learn from the experiences that do go awry so you can become stronger because of them.

It’s worth remembering why you wanted to be a leader in the first place. If you sort of fell into the role, then you have no choice other than to embrace it as well as you possibly can. If not, then think about why you may have been hired or promoted to the role. What qualities have others seen in you that would make you a good leader?

Make decisions and stick to them

Nothing says ‘no authority’ like a manager who can’t make a decision and stick to it. Some decisions are hard to make and do take time, but if you always to and fro when it comes to making important choices then your authority immediately gets undermined and people may not take you seriously as a manager. Honesty, openness and consistency are things that make a good leader.

Do you have great visions for the company?

If you have a brilliant vision for the company or your department, make sure you communicate to your peers about how you want to make this vision a reality. If you have backing from other managers, use their guidance if you’re a bit inexperienced. A good way to keep in the loop is to communicate with other leaders/managers as well as your own staff.