I’ve heard all kinds of ideas about what it takes to be a leader as an introvert such as, “I’m not born to be a leader” or “I don’t want to draw all the attention.” I used to think you have to be an alpha type to have leadership skills, maybe even be intimidating or loud. Yes, you can be outgoing and charming as a leader, like Bill Clinton.
But, we also see introverted leaders like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who are very successful. People will pay attention to these leaders speak even when they are quiet. You don’t need to be loud to be heard.
Comparing what characteristics great leaders have in common, leadership is a collection of skills and it’s something that you can learn by practicing whether you are an introvert or an extrovert.
Back in college, I was socially awkward. When I talked to people (strangers or not), I blushed so bad. Since then, I’ve met many wonderful people, from authors to artists, from Inc. 500 CEOs to Fortune 500 VPs. I am proof that social skills can be learned by studying what successful people do, and figuring out how to apply it yourself. Today I want to share with you 2 simple tactics you can use to improve your leadership skills as an introvert.
Tactic #1: Do Your Homework
Doing your homework is being ready to add value when you start talking. Just take 5-10 minutes to prepare beforehand. Ask yourself “How can I start a conversation?”
1. Is there something trending right now?
2. What do people want to talk about?
3. What are they interested in?
It’s awkward when you try to make small talk but don’t know where to start. The benefit of doing your homework is that you don’t need to depend on other people to start a conversation.
Tactic #2: Apply the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule: 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of your inputs. When applied to leadership, 80% of authority comes from 20% of your interactions.
Think about this. How many times have you had this conversation with a friend or family member:
Person A: “What do you want to do this weekend?”
Person B: “I don’t know. What about you?”
Person A: “I don’t know either.”
Then this can go on for 20 minutes.
This has happened to me a million times and this kind of moment can be used to establish your leadership role whether with your friends or family or with your co-workers or boss. Being a leader is not about controlling or manipulating. In this case, it can be as simple as making a suggestion without being pushy. It’s the small things that count as a leader.
Do your homework, make your small actions count as a leader and you’ll be on your way to becoming an authentic leader who can motivate and empower your employees. It’s a big undertaking but you have to realize that you have many benefits as an introvert that will actually play a big role in establishing the trust of your employees. Be confident and put yourself out there!
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