Being an Introverted Leader

  • Shy: A shy person is frightened of public exposure. There is a component of fear involved. They don’t necessarily want or like to be alone. Being shy, so they say (at least my therapist does), is something you can change
  • Introvert: Introverted people get drained after spending much time with others. They usually enjoy other people a lot but also love and need time alone after many interactions. I will reinforce: they need some time alone to recharge
  • Extroverts: On the other hand, lack of social interaction may make extroverts feel depleted and fatigued

The young Matheus (or, the Resistant Leader)

Looking back, I was always a very introverted person. I could pick several embarrassing or funny examples of my childhood or, even worse, as a teenager, to share. Still, I share just one current anecdotal example:

Black and white cartoon image showing two people talking. One says what are we waiting for and the other says my chatty neighbour is still outside

The current Matheus (or, the Introverted Leader)

Let’s jump some years into the future. I have been working for a while since the mid-’90s. I lead various projects and businesses in different countries and continents. And you know what? I am still a very introverted and shy person. And that is fine.

Picture shows a cartoon person looking into the rain and says what a beautiful day

Some learnings about being an Introverted Leader

1. It is not a problem to be solved: As I said before. Where you sit in the spectrum of introverted to extroverted is a characteristic, like being tall. In the same way I sometimes regret losing the chance to speak, I hear from my extroverted colleagues that they sometimes regret having said too much. Everyone regrets something.

It is just who we are

Introverts’ brains are wired differently from extroverted ones, and introverts will continue to be introverts.

We are not alone

Maybe because we are usually silent, in the past, I often thought that I was the only introvert at the table. Eventually, I learned that introverts make up between 40 to 60 percent of the workforce. When I started talking about this, I found out that many of my colleagues around me are as introverted as I am. If you are a business leader, some food for thought: By engaging introverts, retention increases.

Image of two people on electronic devices and text says I love being alone together

References

Specific about introverted leaders

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Thoughtworks

Thoughtworks

A community of passionate individuals whose purpose is to revolutionize software design, creation and delivery, while advocating for positive social change.