Do you consider yourself an introvert? More importantly, have you fallen into the trap of believing that your introverted tendencies are interfering with your business success? If so, prepare to have your confidence boosted. Because the reality is that succeeding as an entrepreneur is no less doable as an introvert than it is as an extrovert. In fact, most studies show that introverts make better leaders.
Success Isn’t Just for the Socially Skilled
What do Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett have in common? Aside from being mega-prosperous entrepreneurs, they’re all self-professed introverts - and they’re far from alone at the top.
Despite the fact that many of us have come to view successful business leaders as outgoing, high-social-energy types, that impression is mostly a myth. When you actually look at the some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, you’ll discover that many introverts are right there among them.
So what’s behind the misconception that you have less chance of succeeding as an introverted entrepreneur than you do if you’re socially adept? The fact that so many extroverts end up in positions of power is largely responsible.
Introverted Entrepreneurs Have Some Unique Advantages
People who thrive in collaborative, social environments are not only drawn to leadership positions, they tend to be selected for those roles more often than their introverted counterparts. But there’s little evidence to suggest that extroverts do a better job of managing others once they’re in the position to do so – and the opposite is true in many cases.
Here are just a few of the unique advantages that introverted leaders bring to the table:
- Introverts think – a lot. They also excel at noticing details and connections others don’t. So while introspective entrepreneurs may need more time to process their thoughts, this can actually lead to more meticulous, well-rounded decisions.
- Because they’re not exactly gregarious, introverts spend a lot of time listening to what other people have to say. Many introverted leaders exhibit well-developed listening skills – skills known to promote more effective communication in the workplace.
- Introverts have a knack for inspiring trust in others – an indispensable leadership trait. Not only are introverted leaders empathetic and more than willing to sit down one-on-one with team members who aren’t comfortable sharing ideas in groups, they’re also known for their perseverance and their ability to follow through.
It would be inaccurate to claim that just because introverts have a great deal to offer, that they don’t also face some distinct business challenges. Many introverted individuals struggle as entrepreneurs. And this is true regardless of the fact that the breakdown of what a successful entrepreneur looks like makes no mention of personality traits.
It does, however, bring up a few key points that are worth taking note of:
- successful entrepreneurs take risks,
- they prioritize the building of personal and professional networks, and
- they attribute a significant portion of their success to working effectively with management teams
Should we be concerned as business owners if our low-key behavior seems incompatible with such outward-facing goals? That all depends on your perspective.
Making the Most of Your Introverted Attributes
We often perceive risk-taking as being synonymous with extroversion. That may be true for introverts who define risk as speaking in front of a crowd, but the true definition of risk-taking in business has more to do with:
- your ability to accept the potential for financial loss that accompanies the decisions you make, and
- your capacity for tolerating ongoing uncertainty
If you’re an established business owner, odds are you take these risks every day.
And while there’s no question that a little charisma – an attribute shared by many extroverts – goes a long way when it comes to making connections and motivating employees, all is not lost if you’re more the reflective type.
An outgoing nature may make it easier to attend networking events, meet potential business mentors - even to address your management team – but there are workarounds for situations like these.
Bill Gates, for example, claims to have purposely hired extroverts so he could learn from them. Mark Zuckerberg says he surrounds himself with outgoing team leaders who complement his quieter strengths. And Elon Musk made a dedicated effort to learn how to wield personal power through communication and socialization.
Introversion doesn’t dictate your behavior – and it certainly doesn’t have to be a detriment in terms of achieving greater success with your business. Being an introverted entrepreneur simply means you have an exclusive set of skills and a unique disposition that should be taken into account as you build your business and assemble your team.
You can be an introvert and still be a confident decision-maker and creative problem-solver. At the end of the day, it’s your innate persistence, your perpetual drive to learn, and your ability to buckle down and focus that will get you where you really want to go.
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