Welcome to another one of my Todd Talks, which always exists to equip you with ideas that you can use immediately to improve your leadership, make a greater difference in the world, and help other people do the same. Today, I specifically want to address the challenge of being an introverted leader, and that’s because our culture tends to over glorify the extrovert. Introverted leaders as a consequence often don’t get the credit that their good thinking and work deserves.
However, and I truly believe this because I’ve seen it firsthand, being introverted doesn’t mean you can’t be a good leader. Introverted leaders simply need to learn how to express themselves effectively, particularly in the moments that matter, because you can’t expect anybody to see what’s inside your head unless it comes out of your mouth. The good news is that expressing oneself effectively is a totally learnable skill. I’ve seen introverted leaders step up to this and do it extremely well thousands of times.
One story that I think illustrates this perfectly is an experience shared by an introverted leader named Kelly about her team’s return to the office after the pandemic, and here’s what she had to say in her own words, “With my introverted nature, I’ve been aware that being direct and clear is something I needed to work on for a long time. The scenarios we work through during the unlocking the Power of Candor program opened my eyes to the fact that by being unclear and passive in my feedback, I was doing both a disservice to myself and my team.”
“As an introvert, I’ve been aware that being direct and clear was something that I needed to work on for a long time. The scenarios we worked on at Unlocking the Power of Candor really opened my eyes to the fact that by being unclear and passive in my feedback, I was doing a disservice both to myself and the people on my team. Since the workshop, I’ve been a lot more intentional about being both direct and clear, and I saw the results of this play out in our return to the office.”
“I’d been having a really hard time getting staff to regularly come back in, but we needed people here on site, which meant that I ended up working really long hours to try to pick up the slack myself. As I reached burnout and connected the dots with the learning from the workshop, I decided to send a memo that laid out very clear expectations to the team. I let everyone know that from this point forward, they would spend a set number of minimum days in the office to ensure we always had coverage for our customers.
“There was one small hiccup in an individual not following the new policy, but because I’d been so clear in what was expected, it was an easy correction to make, and he immediately implemented feedback when he was called on it. By making this small change and how I presented my expectations to my team, we saved ourselves a lot of time of having to go through this exercise multiple times, and were also avoiding burnout, excessive workload, delayed responsiveness to customers, and feelings of inequity across the organization.”
What does this story teach us about introverted leaders and what it takes to help them express themselves effectively? First of all, it teaches us that introverted leaders can express themselves effectively if properly motivated. Kelly simply took a hard look at the consequences of not expressing herself, realized it was damaging both to herself and her team, and then she stepped up. One of the things that I find really encouraging is that Kelly could have, but didn’t use her personality to justify inaction.
Instead, she took action and expressed herself because she decided it was simply the right thing to do. I think this story also teaches us that while our personalities are good predictors of how we will likely behave, they do not determine how we will actually behave. Regardless of our personalities, we still have a great deal of choice in the matter and anyone, regardless of their personality is capable of doing good in the world by choosing to express themselves authentically.
That’s it for me today. Thanks for listening. I hope you found this valuable, and I look forward to seeing you next time. In the meantime, be compassionate, be curious, be collaborative, but most of all, be candid.