Extroverts thrive in social settings, which is why they’re the type of people many would consider natural leaders. Extroverts can work a room, engage in conversations with ease, and excite their employees with their own infectious energy. But the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted much of the workforce to go remote, which subsequently has created a need for a different set of leadership skills. According to executive coaching firm Velocity Group’s CEO, Edward Sullivan, and chairman, John Baird, extroverts can learn a lot about leading through these unprecedented times from their quieter, more inward-focused counterparts, introverts.
“Faced with the prospect of many more months (and potentially years) of remote work, it is now the more extroverted leaders who are seeking to redefine what it means for them to lead in this new reality,” Sullivan and Baird write in a recent Fast Company article. Here are two things extroverts can learn from an introvert’s approach to leadership.
“Be a Receiver, Not a Broadcaster.”
Because introverts do well in calm, quiet settings and prefer to interact with a limited number of people, introverted leaders tend to engage employees in intimate settings, such as one-on-one or in small groups, Sullivan and Baird write. These individualized chats allow for leaders to be thoughtful and listen to feedback, rather than speak — key qualities for leaders while working remotely, the authors said. “It is important in group calls for leaders to allow the silent spaces to be filled by others,” they write. “Extroverted leaders often take up too much air when in person, but the virtual Zoom meeting gives extroverts a chance to step back and practice more balance between talking and listening.”
One-on-one conversations, Sullivan and Baird write, also allow leaders to get to their message across best by tailoring their tone to the individuals they’re speaking with, having time to answer questions, and keeping those on the other end of the Zoom from tuning out.
Extroverts tend to have a “brash and bold style,” Sullivan and Baird write, which can mask the vulnerability employees look for in leaders during difficult times. Introverts, on the other hand, are known for being more self-aware and mindful of their emotions. “By naming what’s going on for you personally, you drop the veil and allow your teams to see you as more human, more flawed, and more real,” they write. This helps employees feel seen by their leader, which then leads to greater loyalty and trust within teams, they write. “Showing a little bit of your humanity and fallibility,” they said, “lets everyone else feel like it’s [okay] not being perfect, too.”
Casey Gale is associate editor at Convene.