How well do you know your leader? Summing up anyone with one trait versus another trait can be dangerous. We are complex creatures with a mix of genetics, personalities, and life experiences. Still it’s vital to know the general personality make-up, strengths and weaknesses of your team members. While no one personality is going to fit neatly into a descriptive box, implementing tools like Myers-Briggs to assess different styles and personalities on your team can help you work together more effectively.
One of the most helpful traits many assessments indicate is whether your leader is an introvert or an extrovert. I have worked with both types of leaders on extreme ends of the scale. Knowing this information provides invaluable insight into how to better work with your leader.Do you know if your leader is an introvert or an extrovert? Click To Tweet
If you suspect your leader is an introvert, here are some things to remember as you work together (we will look at extrovert leaders soon):
1. They need time alone to recharge.
This is the most significant trait of an introvert. They get their energy from time alone. If your leader has spent a significant amount of time with people, know they are depleted and need time to recharge. Don’t bring a leader a problem or expect an engaging conversation after they have been in meetings all day or made an address to a large group of people. Give them space and time to refuel.
2. One on one conversations are good.
It is good to plan and be prepared for personal conversations with an introverted leader. Whether formal or informal, these personal engagements are usually preferred with introverts. These are more predictable situations with less surprises or interruptions that can happen in larger group discussions. Some of the best strategy sessions happen with introvert leaders in meetings with two or three people.
3. Respect their need for privacy.
Introvert leaders will spend a significant amount of time in private reading, studying, planning and thinking. Sometimes you will wonder where they are because you haven’t seen them out and about. Simply put, they need privacy to lead well using the gifts and abilities they have as a leader. Often, an introverted leader will go away for a time and then come back with a brilliant plan to share with other leaders, getting their feedback and perspective.
4. Give them advance notice on important issues.
Don’t surprise your introvert leader with important news in a public setting or let them hear it from someone other than you. When you have bad news to share, share it quickly. When you see a new opportunity or have great news to share, let them know. This is one place you can trip up with an introvert leader. Because you do respect their need for time alone and their need for privacy, you may be reluctant to tell them news quickly and put it off for a more formal meeting time. The opposite is true for them. They want to be informed personally not in a large group. This will give them time to think it through with you on a personal level not a public level. You never want to embarrass them in a public setting.
5. Don’t push them into large social settings.
Leaders must engage with people. It is part of the work and role of leadership. They must spend time with customers, employees, leaders internally and externally, potential ministry/business partners, and on and on it goes. Introvert leaders must pace their people engagements so they have time to refuel to lead effectively. It is easy to see the benefits of your leader engaging in multiple settings with people, but know there is a real limit to their capacity to engage well. Be careful not to push your leader into these settings.
6. Accept that they prefer one or two close friends/colleagues.
You may notice your introvert leaders has one or two very close colleagues they spend most of their time with. It is easy to get offended by this and think they are picking favorites. The truth is an introvert leader is a better leader when they do have one or two trusted leaders they can engage with on a more regular basis.
God has made each leader with their own set of unique gifts, abilities, and personalities. Learning to appreciate that diversity and seeing the strengths in each make for a much healthier team and organization.
What other suggestions would you have in working with an introvert leader?