Why a toolkit for introverted leaders?
This toolkit has been produced for introverted leaders and those who
coach, manage, support and work with them. The material is drawn from a
study of approximately 40 introverted leaders who completed
questionnaires and 15 extended interviews in 2010.
Introversion can be defined as drawing energy from the inner world of
thoughts, ideas and feelings, while extroversion is drawing energy from the
outer world of people and activities. Everyone does both and their
preferences lie somewhere on a continuum between introversion and
extroversion. Individuals defined as introverts have a preference for
introversion. Many workplaces and work roles seem geared to the
preferences of extroverts and career progression appears to be supported
by extrovert type behaviour.
Is it harder to be an introverted leader? Our research sought to identify
those individuals who had held senior leadership positions, often for many
years, and defined themselves as introverts, to participate in the study.
Some clearly felt that an introverted personality trait had neither enhanced
nor hindered their career progression. However, many reported it had been
influential in their choice of roles, team structure and in their relationship
with managers and peers.
A surprising number of very busy and successful people were keen to talk
to us. They wanted to share what they had learnt about their introversion –
sometimes late in their careers and sometimes the hard way – in the hope
that others might benefit from their insights.
If you are reading this, it’s probably because you already believe you, or
someone you work with, is an introvert. If you are not sure, see overleaf for
ways of helping you to decide. Alternatively, work through the toolkit and
see what you think by the end…
How do you know if you are an introvert?
Some individuals are very clear once they read the type descriptors in Jung
or Myers Briggs, that their preference is for introversion.
There are a number of “quick and dirty” and frequently unvalidated tools
available on the internet.
There are also a number of validated instruments such as MBTI
(www.opp.eu.com) and TDI (www.teamfocus.co.uk)
How to use this toolkit
The toolkit is in four differently coloured sections:
Introversion in the Workplace
Doing it Your Way
Learning and Development
Each section has a number of topics, such as Meetings or Leading Teams
(see the Contents page for a full list). The topics contain a mixture of
short bulleted learning points and direct quotes from introverted leaders
who took part in the research project.
The learning points appear in a regular font and in most cases list some
challenging aspects of the topic and then some positive approaches that
introverted leaders have taken either to address the challenges or to bring
out the best of their own strengths. After each list you will find, in italic
text, the actual words of the introverted leaders. We have reproduced these
extensively as we feel that it can be powerful to read or hear the
experiences and reflections in the authors’ own words.
If you have the time, you may like to read through the whole toolkit - this
will give you a really good feel for the issues that successful introverted
leaders face and for the strategies that they have adopted in their own lives.
If, like many of us, your time is more limited, you may wish to dip in to
those topics which you find more challenging - and see how others have
If you are coaching an introverted leader, or potential leader, we feel that
reading some of the words of others will help you to empathise more
effectively with your coachee.
We hope that you find the toolkit enjoyable and interesting and we would
be delighted to receive any feedback.
Judy Curson and Cassy Taylor - May 2011