This post is dedicated to all introverts.
I’ve been told that introverts, much to our initial surprise, are actually pretty good leaders. Maybe its partially due to our ability to observe and listen, to process and then to respond.
Folks are usually surprised that I’m an introvert. And that’s really surprising to me. For so long, I chalked my “shyness” up to introversion. As I came out of my shyness shell, I realized I was still an introvert. This is why:
1. I process in my head.
2. I don’t generate my energy from human interactions.
Don’t get me wrong. I like people. In fact, I like them so much that I am disciplined about how I use my time to connect with them. I can’t do back-to-back days of meetings, conferences are tricky for me, and if I exert a lot on one day, I’m likely to be at home on another.
One of the best leaders I’ve known is an introvert, and she was also my boss. I’d watch how she engaged a crowd. She was personable, connective, sincere, and energetic. People would leave the room feeling energized and knowing that their time with this organization was well spent. I would watch her wondering how the heck she did it – and slightly nervous that she’d just used up all her “nice”.
And usually, she had.
That’s the challenge of introverts, folks – we’ve got a limited supply of our niceness, our mojo, our stuff. We store it, use it, store it, use it. There’s no creation “on-demand”. Even if it *seems* like we are gaining more energy from our interactions, that’s called adrenaline. And if we don’t get back to our caves at some point soon, we’re screwed.
My leader/boss would often use up too much and we, nearest to her cave, would need to remedy the situation. Remedies were variable, but usually involved, some food (protein), a cup of tea, a mention of how much time until the next “go”, and a shutting of the door. Invariably, a little later, she’d emerge and be ready to go again. (Though, I do think a full fill-up of nice takes at least 24 hours.)
I’m careful when using my ‘nice’ because I know that if I don’t self-monitor, someone else will have to bear the brunt. Usually my husband. For me, its a key lesson in leadership – know how far your battery runs and make sure there’s a re-charge station nearby. If you do it right, folks will continue to comment on how extroverted you are.