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How Introverts Can Improve Their Leadership Skills

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How Introverts Can Improve Their Leadership Skills

There can be a misconception that only the outgoing and naturally confident will make it in business. The quieter skills of more introspective entrepreneurs can be overlooked or undervalued, and there’s an unspoken assumption that it’s only the people you would consider a “natural leader” who can inspire and direct others. However, being a more reserved character doesn’t necessarily mean that someone won’t become an effective entrepreneur – in fact, they may have particular strengths that others lack. They simply have to take their shyness into account, utilising their skills and developing their leadership style.

This isn’t to say that, if you are a shyer person, won’t find some aspects of management and leadership more challenging than an extrovert, but that doesn’t mean that becoming a great leader isn’t possible for you. It may even be that by pushing through these challenges you become more competent than those who don’t have to think about it much. Putting in the effort and thinking about how you can improve your leadership skills is a valuable exercise for anyone, but will particularly beneficial if you struggle to communicate as well as you’d like.

Building Confidence

Confidence comes with experience, so you can take comfort in the fact that the longer you are in this role the more your self-belief will grow. However, there are ways to boost build confidence quickly. Taking up meditation helps with good people management for various reasons, and it’s been a favourite of business leaders from Steve Jobs to Bill Ford to Oprah Winfrey. Steve Jobs believed that his meditation practise made him more innovative, stating that “you see so much more than you could see before” while Oprah thinks meditation helps you “create your best work and your best life.”

Meditation is thought to improve clarity and decision making skills, while reducing the stress which exacerbates self-doubt. A Harvard study found that only eight weeks of meditation has a physical effect on people’s brains, providing solid evidence that backs up anecdotal claims suggesting mediation improves self-esteem. Anxious, obsessive and fearful thoughts originate in almond-shaped nuclei clusters known as the amygdala near the base of the brain. Meditation reduces the size of the amygdala, while bolstering the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning.

Making Connections With Your Team

Breaking the ice with your team may be a challenge if you aren’t naturally outgoing, so create situations that you are more comfortable with. Informal one to one reviews are a good excuse to chat in a way that won’t be overwhelming – getting to know one person is less intimidating than attempting to address your whole team at once. You can also make it easier by allocating a couple of hours every now and then to order in pizza or go for lunch with everyone. This will make interacting with everyone more natural and social, where the focus isn’t on you.

Tackling Difficult Conversations

Addressing an employee’s poor performance, telling a client that they are being unreasonable, or even firing someone – you’ll have to face these conversations in business, and holding your own isn’t easy. Ask other senior business leaders for advice, and even get them to coach for various scenarios, so you have a template to work from. Prepare for difficult conversations with some responses you’re likely to receive, and work out how you are going to address them. This way you’ll reduce your chances of being caught on the back foot and becoming flustered.

For example, if you have a difficult employee and you have to discuss their performance with them, they may say “you’re being unfair because of x, y and z”. Have an answer for any likely complaint or excuse, including the support you may offer should they be facing any genuine difficulty.

If a bullish client keeps steamrolling over your point of view in conversations, email them your thoughts and stick to them in real-life talks. If you are an introvert, the likelihood is that you are naturally good at compromise and making allowances, so have confidence in yourself if you feel it’s time put your foot down. Polite phrases like “as I’ve said, that outcome simply isn’t possible” and quietly making it clear that you aren’t afraid to lose a client who is causing more headaches than they’re worth should make an unreasonable person back down.

Acting With Authority

Being authoritative isn’t about throwing your weight around and constantly reminding people that you are the boss, it’s about making people have faith that you are steering the ship, however quietly you may do so. Feeling comfortable around your employees by taking the time to get to know them is the first step, and you need to make sure you have the information to hand which proves your decisions are the best ones.

For example, if you want to implement a new system, your employees will want to know why. They may even grumble about changes you want to make. Do your research so you can answer their concerns, and be seen to take any suggestions they have on board. Tell them that you’ll look into their ideas further, and then actually do so. They’ll take you seriously if you take them seriously, and when delegating work make sure you don’t ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do should the situation call for it.

You don’t have to act like someone’s stereotypical idea of a boss to be a good leader, you just have to have faith in your decisions. Prove that you know best and then everyone will follow your vision naturally. Innate confidence is rare and you’ll be surprised at how many seemingly outgoing people have struggled with being shy. Rather than a talent you’re born with, leadership is a skill that can be learnt, and there’s no reason why being an introvert should hold you back from achieving your goals.
Holly Ashby is a writer and social media manager who currently works with Will Williams Meditation, a centre that teaches Transcendental meditation in London and offers corporate wellbeing courses to companies looking to harness the benefits of meditation in their businesses.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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