Do introverts make good business leaders?
I would definitely put myself in the introvert category of a personality test and have been considering whether introverts make good business leaders.
I’ve never been one of those people with the loudest voice in a management meeting. I wanted to be my own boss but I admit that I never once stopped to think if being self-employed would be a good match with my own personality.
I while ago I came across an article on Informi.co.uk which was an introvert’s guide to business. It got me thinking about how I run my own business and whether being an introvert was somehow holding me back from wider success?
Here’s what I learnt.
I take things to heart
When you set out on your own, you lose the security blanket of a team or boss to take some of the flack when things go wrong. When things go well you bask in the glory but when things go wrong, it’s all on you.
During my time as my own boss I’ve realised that while you should take negative feedback and setbacks seriously, it’s usually not meant to be personal.
Unless you are very, very lucky, you will always receive some negative feedback from your clients on occasion. But at least when I take things to heart I tend to be more conscientious and work harder to find solutions so I’m not in that position again.
Hopefully, this makes for a better experience for my clients.
I’m fairly quiet
As I have said, I’m certainly not the person who talks the most and the loudest in meetings.
This can be perceived in a negative way, as if I don’t have a grasp of the situation or don’t have any answers.
The truth is, introverts tend to be good listeners; if you’re talking then you’re not really listening.
I know we love to think we can all multitask but listening and talking at the same time just isn’t possible.
In business, your customers need to be heard and understood. They will want to know you’ve taken what they’re saying on board and understand how they are feeling.
As a great listener, you have an advantage over those who just want to talk about themselves and their products and services.
Customers will be impressed that you took the time to really hear them and help them.
I work well on my own
I don’t believe that anyone can succeed in business entirely on their own. We all need support from others, guidance and advice from time to time.
However, if you work freelance, as I do or your business is a start-up, you might have to cope on your own for long periods. Introverts tend to be very self-sufficient and able to get on with things without the need for constant support. This is a good attribute if you want to be your own boss.
For some people, working largely from home wouldn’t work but I’m generally quite happy without the noise of a busy office.
I’m not a public speaker or a networker
I guess the flip side of being happy in my own company is that I find networking quite challenging. It can require a real effort and doesn’t always feel natural. I once had to present at a networking event and this really took some guts.
I do believe that public speaking and networking are skills that can get easier the more you do them but it comes far more naturally to some than others.
However, don’t think that you can’t be successful running a business because you find face to face networking difficult. There are other ways to network.
Thankfully, we can now do a lot of networking via social media. You might be able to embrace the online world far more quickly than traditional methods. Plus, if you get to understand it, you can advise your clients about it too.
I need a fair amount of downtime
Another point in the article I read mentioned the need for time away to avoid burn-out. I wouldn’t say I feel a real need to recharge my battery after a run of networking and meetings but we’re all different.
The point is that because introverts tend to need more time to recharge, it actually means they can be more focused. Taking time out after a client project allows you to concentrate on the next client, rather than ploughing through with little or no breaks.
Money, money, money
I left this one until last because I wasn’t sure I agreed with it.
The idea is that introverts aren’t the flashy types and tend to enjoy the simple things in life, such as; a coffee with a friend or a walk in the woods.
Because we’re not always motivated by money and material goods, we’re free to focus on making a difference and on our purpose, of adding value to our clients.
Now, I’m not saying that I don’t want to add value to my clients but I think if I said I wasn’t also driven by money I’d be lying. Do I hate talking about money? Yes. Do I hate chasing money owed to me? Yes.
But I don’t just say, oh don’t worry about it, I’ll work for free!
So, can introverts make good business leaders?
I’m definitely an introvert but I also have other influences which make me who I am. Being quieter and shyer than others can sometimes be a challenge but it brings benefits too. As a writer, I believe my personality works in my favour the majority of the time.
Being successful in business comes down to far more than character traits. For me, understanding who I am and my strengths and weaknesses is important. I wouldn’t try to change who I am but knowing this information helps me to make the right choices for my business.
How can THP help?
THP can help you grow your business. The friendly people there like nothing more than chatting to you about your business and future plans. Whether it’s bookkeeping, tax returns or advice on company structure, they can help.
About Liz Cordell
I’m an experienced copywriter, with a great attention to detail. Having previously held positions at a global publisher, a top 100 law firm and a Big Four professional services firm, I now work with clients across a range of industries. Whether it’s new content for a website or creating interesting blogs for my clients, I can create engaging copy that doesn’t take a lifetime to read.