If you are an introvert, it doesn't mean that you always have to play the role of "that weird dude who sits silently in the corner of the room". You can be a leader. Moreover, you should be a leader! There is no need to do anything supernatural - you already have the required abilities and qualities. You just need to use them right.
"The leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves" - Lao Tzu
As strange as it may sound, many introverts have the inclination to be leaders due to the peculiar character traits that many of them have. The thing is that introversion and extraversion are considered to be the opposite things. However, every one of us has qualities of both. The main difference between these categories of people is that introverts are more concentrated on their inner world and their own worries and emotions while extraverts seek inspiration in the outer world.
Introverts make great leaders and communication skills have nothing to do with it. What matters is a sharp mind, the ability to think and analyze, attention to details and the skill to build strong and sensible relationships with people.
Such qualities fully correspond to the quote of wise Lao Tzu. Numerous well-known leaders-introverts proved that by achieving success thanks to their character traits: Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling and many others.
I myself am an introvert and I often think and research this phenomenon. I really don't see it as some flaw and I encourage other introverts to use some of our qualities to become successful. The following are some things that I've noticed to be quite beneficial for introverts who want to become leaders.
Lesson 1. Talk about your achievements
Despite the quality of work, introverts often remain in the shadow because they don't want to openly talk about their achievements. Many introverts are known to be very attentive to their work and to have creative approaches to solving problems. With that, they barely want to highlight these qualities and the results of their work.
This often stands on the way of achieving higher positions. If you are an introvert, you need to realize what you are good at and learn to talk about your achievements to make them and you visible to the world and to your managers.
Lesson 2. Build strong relationships with those who make decisions
A common delusion is that introverts are shy and asocial individuals who avoid interacting with people by all means. Actually, they just get energy supply when they are alone. They are not afraid of talking to people; their inner batteries just go flat when there are too many social interactions.
What does it mean? It is actually quite simple. When introverts meet new people and like them, they try to make it into something more than a meaningless small talk. It means that if you talk to an introvert, you'll probably remember this conversation. Talking to important people in a company and sharing their ideas, introverts can stand out and achieve success.
At my previous job (a big company), I once met a very nice lady at a cafeteria. We talked, shared some thoughts and seemed to like each other's company very much. Only some time after that I found out that she held a very high position at the company. At the next meeting, she offered my candidacy for promotion. I believe that is very good example of why you need to talk to people more.
Lesson 3. Attention to details and the ability to listen helps finding interesting solutions to problems
Common qualities of many introverts are close attention to the details and the ability to listen and to hear people. They are used to analyze everything and to dig deep into things; so they easily notice small details and find a way out of desperate situations.
Such qualities make introverts valuable members of any team. They listen and think first, and then speak. Use these qualities in discussions that require several opinions and view angles and the attention to your words and to you will show itself very soon.
Lesson 4. Don't refuse solitude, but overcome reticence
The majority of introverts are most comfortable when they are alone; that's why they need some time during the day by themselves to feel good. It is normal. However, it is also important to challenge yourself and to fight your reticence, at least a little. It may concern small things such as going to have lunch with colleagues or participating in work meetings more.
The CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer (who's also an introvert), has her own way of fighting discomfort in social situations. She sets a certain time limit during which she cannot leave a meeting or event. If by this time she doesn't feel better, she leaves. Making herself be there for a certain amount of time, Mayer overcomes her reticence step by step. When you know that you have only 30-40 minutes left, you feel much freer. You can also try to use this method for social events.
Lesson 5. Use the Internet to tell about your qualities
Introverts may seem quite shy, but they make up for everything they refuse in real communication on the Internet. Written words come much easier to them, so there is no surprise they feel more comfortable in social networks than in real life.
Well, that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Many interactions and business processes happen online these days, so it is the time and place to brag about your qualities not even talking to people.
Lesson 6. Practice leadership in your family
If you are the leader in your family, it will be easier to become one at work. It doesn’t have to be something major. Just start making decisions – define your and your family’s budget for the next month, plan your next vacation, start monitoring your kids’ Facebook and other social media, etc. Be the boss in your home and you will get used to it eventually.
Leaders-introverts are real people and everyone can become one. Just realize at what things you are better than the others and use it to your benefit.