Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Can introverts really be effective leaders?


In the process of exploring more about myself, I discovered that I have a rare and complicated personality type. So much made sense as I started to read and learn more. I have an INFJ personality. Confused about what those letters mean? You can read about that here. There are limitations with this type of personality classification as it is viewed as more of a fixed concept. I am coming to realise that there is fluidity in all of these matters and no classification will give you a perfect representation but it helps in understanding. (I am currently exploring the Enneagram concepts as they include ways that your personality expresses in healthy and unhealthy seasons.)

In the process of my own leadership journey, I discovered that I had a misconception about extroverts making better leaders. I felt that being an introvert had me at a disadvantage in leadership. I wasn't overly concerned about it until asked to take on this greater level of responsibility and influence as the MOPS Western Australia State Coordinator. I was struggling to see how my personality would fit with this position. Interacting with people drains me even though I enjoy it and am drawn to that interaction (part of the dichotomy of my personality type). Holding conversation and talking on the phone can be anxiety provoking. I struggle to maintain eye contact. How could I possibly run a ministry?

Being aware of the challenges I face as an introvert in leadership is important but not my main focus anymore. I want to identify areas to work on but also want to focus on the positives and advantages that my personality brings to the role. I started to research INFJ in leadership. It gave me such a boost. I do have strengths in leadership that I bring to the role. I can help people feel heard and understood. I can connect with people. People with my personality tend to be good at inspiring people to embrace a vision and develop plans to carry that vision out. We tend to focus more on empowering those in our influence than seeking power and authority for ourselves. That sounds like a great potential for effective leadership.

I feel more capable of leadership after my research. I also recognise the potential pitfalls and want to equip myself to overcome these. I will address some of these, like my aversion to conflict, in future posts. If you are an introvert like me, I encourage you to learn more about your own personality and research it for yourself. You are able to be an effective leader.

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