Imagine this: you’re in a concert hall. The lights go down and you draw your attention to the orchestra on stage. The conductor prepares to begin and listens out for a soft ‘ding’ from a triangle, the first note that goes out. Through the piece, the conductor will return his focus to the quiet ‘ding’ that rings in strategic bursts, setting the pace, the tone for the performance – making it the most important instrument in a full orchestra.
Yet, no one talks about it. We assume that good timing is something that is too basic. When really, it’s something that needs to be continually worked at, something that needs to be achieved for a synchronised performance so that other instruments may shine.
In a lot of ways, the introverts in your organisation, your team are like that. They do good work, often silently, building foundations and giving space for others to shine. And if you think about it, isn’t this at the heart of what makes a good leader? The acceptance that it’s about the team’s success, not theirs. That the best way forward isn’t just about implementing their good ideas. In this section, I’ll zero in on key skills that introverts often have and hope that, like me, you’ll start to see how the world would be better managed with more introverts in power.
As things continue to change so rapidly, it’s especially crucial that corporate leaders be increasingly humble. They should be comfortable enough to say, “I don’t know” instead of putting on a front that they understand new technologies, new mindsets. An exemplary leader should also see the value in learning from younger talent, because let’s face it, talking to them is a more effective starting point than reading stacks of literature on, say, internet culture. In putting others first, introverts tend to listen more than they talk. Because they recognise the value in giving someone their attention, in giving someone else the space to be heard. This, in turn, creates a much-needed space for their team, their colleagues to share ideas and feedback more freely – allowing the company to draw on the strengths of a group, instead of a lone contributor.
When introverts talk, it’s not for nothing. It’s very likely that they’ve taken time to analyse the situation at hand, that they’ve weighed the pros and cons, that the solutions they proposed have taken into calculated risks. This reflective mental framework they’ve built makes them more effective leaders. When time pressures demand a response, instead of simply reacting, they can go through their practised checklists and offer more measured solutions.
Most introverts I’ve met tend to form deeper connections with people they work with, people from their social networks. Again, I think it goes back to the importance introverts tend to place on giving attention. In terms of employee engagement, these emotional connections help with building trust which in turns builds their credibility to affect change.
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Head of Sales, Customers Digital Transformation | Former VP Sales Operations Digital Transformation