A few days ago, I had a conversation with a bright and driven young woman who thought her shyness and reservedness were the barriers she must overcome to succeed on the leadership path.
It resonated with me on so many levels!
I am a classical introvert myself, fact that only know to my closest friends and family. My favorite way to spend some downtime is reading a book in a chair under the blanket or my dog pretending to be a blanket. I need a few days to recharge after a large gathering, and if someone cancels a big party – my first reaction is relief. In school, my parents were constantly told that their daughter was too shy and quiet and would never succeed in the demanding world.
I know firsthand how hard it is to make yourself heard and seen in a world dominated by extroverts. Throughout the years, I created an extraverted persona for myself and learned to push it forward when needed, and by now, the two of us co-exist in peace and harmony. But it might not be a way to move forward for everyone.
So my advice to everyone who doubts their ability to become a great leader (in personal or professional life) because they are not extraverts is:
✔ Read the book 'Quiet - The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking' by Susan Cain. It opened my eyes to so many things!
✔ Pretending to be someone else is exhausting. Staying true to yourself allows you to use this energy on much more enjoyable and productive ventures.
✔ Introverts have a few talents that make them great leaders, one of which is listening, a trait that extroverts need to work hard on to develop.
✔ Sometimes, you may need to step out of the familiar territory and turn on the volume a bit. Treat it as an experiment, a fun adventure to shake off the routine. Just don't forget to allow yourself to sit quietly in your favorite chair under your favorite blanket.