Fostering Excellence
Bringing out the best in each of us
Performing well in a leadership role can be a very demanding and draining experience for introverts. The face-time requirements made of leaders are naturally high and this face- to-face time with people, especially in larger group settings, come at a higher energy cost to introverts than extroverts. As the day wears on, the introvert leader can find himself needing solitude when the exigencies of the job require time with people.

Leadership roles are largely people-centric and that is how they should be. Leaders are influencers, and influencing requires being with people: building relationships, building trust, building teams and meeting the needs of the people of your organization. Lots of face time.

So what can the introvert do to meet the demands of a leadership role and still have the energy to perform them well (and still want to come in to work the next day)? Choosing the right career field can be enormously helpful, but also, establishing daily and weekly rituals that give the introvert time and space throughout the day to recharge is critical to keep that introvert energized and enthusiastic in their role as a leader.

Thriving as an Introvert Leader

Be Choosy in Your Career Field – While all career fields will require their leaders to spend a fair portion of their day with people, some career fields naturally have lower requirements than others. If you are leading engineers or software developers, jobs that attract a larger distribution of introverts and require a good deal of solitude for work on the part of the employee, your face time requirements will be lower than if you were leading teams densely populated with extroverts in jobs with high face-time needs such as event planning, consulting or HR. Additionally, leading distributed teams is a better fit for introverts than extroverts.

Mid-Day Yoga – If your job allows for some flexibility, doing your daily workout during your lunch break can give you a break and welcome solitude. This may mean extending your work day a little on either end of the day to make up any time you will miss. Timing your daily workout to around mid-day maximizes the rejuvenating effect of the workout for an introvert. Taking your workout in the beginning of the day, when you aren’t tired from extended social activity wastes an opportunity. Use the exercise session to get some alone time and recharge those social batteries!

Mid-Morning Drink Runs – Volunteering to go on the drink run for the team can give you some needed time and space to rejuvenate and also an opportunity to provide a service to your team. Go retrieve the drinks and snacks alone or perhaps with a close friend and use the 30 minutes or so to refresh and come back ready for employee engagement.

Pair Yourself with an Extrovert – Depending on your leadership role, you may have a deputy. Selecting a deputy that shores up your weaknesses allowing you to maximize your strengths is a winning combination. Consider pairing up with an extrovert as your deputy. While you cannot delegate all of your duties that require face-time, you can tag-team in a way that affords you more solitude throughout the day.

Weekly Solitude Lunches – Your leadership role will likely preclude you from having all of your lunches alone. Creating a ritual of having some lunches on your own, mid-week for instance, can afford a respite that rejuvenates you for more engagement during the end of the week.

Leverage the Weekend – Finally, using the weekend to rejuvenate will be critical to your performance in the following week. Spend the time in ways that will recharge your batteries. Spending solitary time in nature can replenish your reservoirs of social energy. Consider reading, long runs, or quiet evenings with your spouse, friend or family member-anything that recharges the batteries. If you pack your weekend with too many social engagements, you will not be ready for the work week.

Introverts have a lot to bring to the table in leadership roles. They are reflective, creative and analytical. If you are an introvert in a leadership role, play to those strengths while leading your teams. Make sure you create niches of solitude in your week that allows you to rejuvenate and be ready for the many in person engagements that come with leadership.

Michael Farr, PMP, is a Chief Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and founder of He is passionate about recognition and enabling professionals to motivate their organizations through recognizing their member’s excellence. When he is not slaying dragons with his kids, he can be found at @fosterxcellence on Twitter and @fosteringexcellence on Facebook.

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