Ever feel your battery drain as soon as you step into a work meeting? You put on a big smile, actively listen to one colleague after another, and secretly stress out over when it’ll be your turn to talk.
At the same time, you can’t help but notice how speaking up in meetings comes quite naturally to your more outgoing colleagues. It’s as if they can’t wait to discuss their latest project or give their opinion on the topic at hand.
If this describes you, you’re likely an introvert.
Hold up: what’s an introvert? An introvert is a personality type, with the other end of the spectrum being an extrovert. According to scienceofpeople.com, there’s also an Ambivert, which is someone who exhibits qualities of both introverts and extroverts and can flip into either depending on their mood, context, and goals. Compare the two main personality types in the chart below.
If you’re an introvert, you might feel like your contributions in the workplace aren’t valued as highly as an extrovert’s. Because introverts can be seen as shy or quiet, some assume that they don’t make good leaders.
However, being an introverted professional and leader can have far more benefits than you’d expect. Introverts have a unique set of strengths that can help them stand out in the workplace. In harnessing these introvert strengths, you’ll be more empowered as a natural leader and asset to your team.
Key Introvert Strengths in the Workplace
Introverts are naturally creative
One powerful introvert strength is they don’t need collaboration to create. Spending time alone is something introverts value, which can lend itself to creative breakthroughs, new ideas and innovation. Whether it’s a new presentation idea, an innovative case approach, or a brilliant teamwork strategy, introverts are good at developing creative viewpoints.
Introverts weigh each option carefully
Sometimes extroverts get carried away by the excitement of a new idea. Introverts, however, tend to approach decision-making more analytically by considering multiple scenarios. In this sense, the introvert strength is all about balancing out the more impulsive traits of extroverted colleagues on the team by thinking through the things they haven’t considered. The insights provided by the introvert pair well with the enthusiasm of the extrovert, potentially making all the difference in delivering a successful outcome.
Introverts are natural networkers
While extroverts are often excited to meet and talk with as many people as possible in a networking session and often have a wider circle of contacts, introverts usually take a more strategic approach. Rather than trying to collect as many business cards as possible, introverts seek out genuine connections that can lead to opportunities and partnerships in the future.
Introverts practice active listening
The ability to actively listen is one of the most important skills any leader can have. It’s an introvert superpower with a two-fold effect: hearing new perspectives from your colleagues and making them feel more valued in a team setting. Plus, taking the time to absorb what the other person is saying can help craft a truly intelligent and well-reasoned response.
Introverts allow others to have a say
Ever been in a meeting with someone who seemingly couldn’t stop talking? Maybe she provided one idea after another before letting others have a say. That’s where introvert strengths come into play. Thanks to greater self-awareness and listening skills, introverts know when to speak and when to hand off the mic to someone else. This helps them gain the respect of colleagues and lead more collaborative teams.
Introverts provide a source of empathy in the workplace
Introverts have a knack for being aware of others and picking up on subtle cues that others might not notice. When it comes to colleagues, this empathy can make the difference in building healthy and productive relationships. Introverts can foster a more inclusive working environment and invoke a sense of loyalty as a leader.
Being empathetic can also help with professional job responsibilities. No matter the industry, there’re many benefits to being able to step into the shoes of a client or customer. A better understanding of the situation at hand allows for better problem-solving and better outcomes.
Introverts are well suited leaders
Because of the many strengths listed above, introverts often make great leaders. Their listening skills, empathy, and collaboration can be the foundation for a highly functional team. They’re also less likely to get caught up in office drama, meaning they may more fairly resolve conflicts and not let preferential treatment dictate choices made. This can dramatically increase workplace engagement, satisfaction, and overall morale.
Introverts value self-care
Even though the idea of recharging might seem inefficient, it’s actually an introvert strength. Far too often, people without a healthy sense of work-life balance end up overworking themselves and burning out. In a survey of 1,500 U.S. workers alone, nearly 52% reported experiencing burnout in 2021.
Introverts tend to get drained by a lot of interaction and must set aside more time for self-care. This not only helps them but sets a good example for their teams. Whether that be leaving work at a normal time, sleeping an extra hour, reading a book or eating an unrushed meal alone, these moments of personal time are preparation for maximum output the next day.
Harness your introvert strengths
Strong teams need people with all types of personalities, backgrounds, ideas and experience. While introvert strengths are sometimes not as apparent as extrovert strenghts, introverts bring so much to leadership and teams.
If you’re an introvert, you have more strengths than people may credit you for. It’s time to recognize your value and bring out the leader within! You’ll soon come to find that being an introvert can elevate your career and company like never before.