Let’s start with a question that I am sure you have asked as a leader.
“Hello, do I have to dial it down a bit and be less civil to be a great leader?” Although I haven’t asked this question before, but I’ve heard quite a few young leaders pushing such requests during 1 to 1 counseling sessions.
“Do I have to be excessively extravert to be a successful leader? I like humans, but I am not comfortable starting new conversations with people I do not know. Does this mean I will not be a good leader?”
For some reason, less outgoing people think that if they cannot drive around glad-handing individuals like politicians, that they will never be thriving leaders.
I think that covered in the question “Do I have to be more civil to be a successful leader?” is the concern that people who are not sociable are not good with people. This is not true! Your capacity to bond with your team is not focused upon your experience to be the life of the party. You see, you make your relationships with your office colleagues, team members, and your office management gradually over time.
You do have to talk to your team. That’s a must. I don’t support hiding behind email or hiding behind your office door. Come out of your cabin and speak to your coworkers. Do it slowly and try to form a one-on-one bond. Be open with people about the truth that you can be more reserved. You can build support and trust; just do it in a way that evolves more naturally.
I do not promise you that you will never have to perform in front of a large group. When it is your chance to speak out in public, stand up and do a decent job. Just because you may not love speaking to a larger crowd does not mean you cannot shine at it.
If you indeed are someone who does not love talking, you could be an exceptional listener. If this is you, your colleagues will learn to appreciate your listening skills. Carefully use this skill to your advantage.
If you are introverted and unable to face people at your office or in a social gathering, be a good listener, which can be your road to victory as a leader.
I am sure you have seen Money Heist. The ‘professor’ played by Álvaro Morte is essentially an introvert character. He doesn’t seem to spark discussions out of the blue. However, he used it to his advantage by listening to people in a one-on-one dialogue and then quietly implementing his strategies. Guess what? This introverted ‘professor’ is the leader of the pack.
The primary step to flourishing leadership is to decode who you really are. Understand your weaknesses and your strengths. By the way, being sociable or not is not certainly a strength or a weakness. It is solely a part of who you are. If you try to push yourself to be something you are genuinely not, you will come across as insincere and awkward. This will hurt your ability to be a good leader because people will feel awkward around you.
Remember, you control who you are, and you choose who you want to be. There are thriving leaders of all types. Once you are happy with who you are, you can find the right environment for you. And that is where you will win – outgoing or not.