There’s a myth out there that the most successful leaders are extroverts — they’re outspoken, never shying away from sharing their ideas, and they’re able to let their big personality shine effortlessly. However, being an introverted person has its own set of benefits.
While introversion is often thought of as a negative attribute as we tend to associate it with shy or anxious people, it’s important to remember that introversion is just a personality trait, not a mental health diagnosis.
“Introverts are better thought of as people who are simply drained by being in large social environments, such as parties,” explains Dr. Clinton Moore, a Clinical Psychologist with over 10 years experience working with a variety of clients in Sydney, Australia.
“Extroverts similarly would feel drained by being in intimate one-on-one situations. From this perspective, introverts can be a real asset in the workplace in terms of the balance they bring.”
We reached out to a handful of psychologists and human relations experts to get their expert insights on how being an introvert can actually be a huge benefit when it comes to success in the workplace.
Introverts tend to be deep thinkers
“Introverts tend to be expert deep thinkers; if they have been trained to use this skill well, then they are often able to problem solve on an advanced level due to their ability to consider multiple scenarios rather than getting excited about one direction and running at it with gusto,” explains Dr. Moore, who’s main area of expertise is anxiety and perfectionism.
Within a workplace this means that introverts are helpful at tempering some of the more impulsive traits commonly seen in extroverts.
Being an introvert can help you maintain focus and create lasting impressions
Introverts tend to do their best thinking and concentrating solo. They thrive in being alone. This is great when your work setting is in an office or a cubicle.
“This also may make it easier to work from home because introverts do not crave social interaction,” says Licensed Professional Counselor, Erica Wiles. “While they can fully engage and socialize when needed, it is not necessary for them to do so in order to find happiness and contentment.”
“This skill is also beneficial when it comes to networking,” explains Farah Harris, MA, LCPC. “You do not have to connect with everyone in the room but be strategic and select a few in which you can engage in meaningful dialogue.”
This creates a lasting impact with the person you have a one-on-one relationship with, rather than gaining a handful of business cards and forgetful conversations that are fruitless.
Being an introvert can help keep you out of office drama
Drama, interoffice gossip and conflict with peers are all things that are easier to avoid as an introvert.
“Introverts are less likely to engage in side conversations because they do not enjoy them,” explains Wiles. “Also, they are generally less aware of external situations/tension as they tend to spend most of their time focused inward.”
This makes it easier to maintain appropriate boundaries in the work setting.
“Introverts do not like small talk but prefer to engage in meaningful conversation,” adds Harris. “This can be an extreme strength in becoming a leader. With more millennials in the workforce who are looking to have meaning and purpose in and out of the office, a manager who can intentionally engage with staff will have a leg up.”
Being an introvert can help you maintain a healthy work/life balance
“Introverts draw strength and mental/emotional/physical refreshment from being alone,” says Wiles.
“This quality can help to ensure that they get out of the office on time. It also allows them to spend more time focusing on and engaging in self care.”
Introverts can help elevate the quiet and calm
Because introverts are less chatty than their extroverted peers, their quiet demeanor can provide a sense of calm.
“Being cool and collected are great qualities to have as a leader,” says Harris. “This calming presence can help decrease stress and allows for others to have a voice at the table. No one likes a boss who is loud and takes over meetings without leaving room for input.”
Introverts are great problem solvers
As stated before, introverts get energized when they are alone. This provides the quiet they need to hear their own thoughts, gain insight, and focus on the task at hand. According to Harris, the ability to not get distracted is a great advantage as a leader.
The best think tank for an introvert is alone in their mind and contemplating solutions that others may miss.
Introverts may not have the personalities that people first think of when considering leadership roles.
They may be less expressive and talkative than their extroverted peers, however they possess great leadership qualities that would make them an asset to any team or organization.