Introverted Leaders: Revelations on Communication

Today leadership communication has moved well beyond telling people what to do.  Great leaders process diverse opinions and engage all to understand the vision and hit the target.

Regardless of the leader, each must address three components and remember:

Vision sets the target.

Strategy maps the route.

Communication gets everyone there.

Introverted leaders, who struggle with the need for so much communication, succeed when they understand the underlying need and the benefits.

Leadership Communication: Revelations for Introvert Leaders Image by:kenfagerdotcom

Revelations for Introverted Leaders

Think of those you lead as the feet that bear the full weight of the body during the journey. Without communication, they get lost, take unnecessary detours, walk further than necessary, and possibly miss the destination altogether.

It’s not a matter of introversion or extroversion. It’s not a competition of personality types and definitely not an exercise in being accepted for who you are.

For all leaders, it’s about stepping outside of your own view to engage your teams and lighten their load.

Communication is an essential nutrient needed for daily performance especially for those who are not making the decisions. How else will they understand the strategy, implement it through all the obstacles, and hit the target?

  1. Communication delivers energy that fuels their journey. Your silence fuels your thinking yet it leaves those you lead stranded in neutral. Neutral isn’t painless. When the struggle mounts, neutral can inject more pain to the struggle.
  2. Communication clarifies details, corrects the course, and prevents problems. Your silence gives you clarity of thought yet it allows confusion to swirl for all others. Relieve the stress of confusion — communicate.
  3. Communication settles and calms the struggle. Your silence is calming to you; it is unsettling to those who need the leader’s insight. Being in the dark is demotivating. A tomb is a very calm settled place but hardly productive or happy.
  4. Communication engages and inspires maximum contribution. Your silence inspires you; it doesn’t inspire your teams. It leaves them wondering. It disconnects them from you and disengages their spirit of contribution. Why should they give their all if they see you staying in your comfort zone?
  5. Communication shows them you care about them. Your silence can unintentionally come across as detached and uncaring. Even driver leaders who aren’t introverts run this risk as they focus purely on end results.

    Take time to tell the teams how much you respect them, value their commitment and contributions, and care about their well being. Acknowledgement and recognition repeatedly show up in the top results of employee satisfaction surveys.

The one word mantra I recommend to introverted leaders is “sooner”. (For extroverted leaders, it’s “later”.) If you need time to think things through before making a decision, at least tell your teams that right away before retreating to think and decide. It keeps them engaged while you ponder strategy.

Your competence in setting vision and developing strategy builds their confidence in you; your rapport and care build their trust.

As introvert Ron Edmondson professes in this post, 5 Ways to Step Up & Communicate, you build their trust when they see that you care more about them and their success than you do your own comfort zone.

So I ask all leaders regardless of personality type and preferences, how much do you care about your teams? Enough to communicate outside of your comfort zone in ways that inspire, engage, and light the way?

The choice is yours. The rewards are many.

I am here to help. Please offer your questions and perspectives in the comments field below.

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Update: I found Dan Oestreich’s comment so pertinent to this post, I feature it here for all to read. Thank you Dan. It’s a great addition.
[“Instead of making this an issue of “not changing” … the other way is to see how we all (introvert or extrovert) are naturally moving over the course of a career and a lifetime toward greater and greater versatility and personal fulfillment. In that, all styles and temperaments are incomplete; our job engages their transcendence.”]

Related Posts:
Leaders, 10 Essential Thoughts to Proficient People Skills
Use These 15 Not-So-Obvious People Skills for Career Success
12 Worthy Kudos to Spark Employee Engagement

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

18 Responses to “Introverted Leaders: Revelations on Communication”

  1. Ed Perry says:

    Hi there, I lead a team of 10 spread through 6 countries. Communication is obviously key as we meet physically probably about once a year, so for the rest of the time we rely on calls. Any tips for management and leadership ‘remotely’ and accross time zones? Thanks.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Ed,
      Tip #1: Use the word “distance” instead of “remote”. Remote suggests that there is one primary place and everyone else is ancillary.

      Tip #2: If/when you can use videochat instead of calls, do it. Faces connect more strongly than voice.

      Tip #3: Make sure communication sessions are not just status reports. If it can be said purely through email, then it is just a status report. Communication sessions are the times to inspire, engage, and create new results from the exchange of all views.

      I will have more for you. I need to run right now.

      So pleased you have tapped into this discussion today.

      Regards and thanks,

  2. Beth Boring says:

    This is an awesome article! Could not agree more!

  3. Ryan Setter says:

    Wonderful article, Kate, and excellent advice for anyone who struggles with communication.

    Personally, I do not fall into the introverted category, but I have certainly been there in the past, and I work with many leaders that currently do. I couldn’t agree with you more about each one of the revelations that you describe. I know that for me, the discovery and implementation of these keys took a lot of courage to overcome, but looking back, I know that journey made me stronger.

    Reading your post serves as an awesome reminder – I still sometimes have to “communicate outside of your comfort zone in ways that inspire, engage, and light the way” – but now I make it fun for myself, and it is rewarding.

    I know that there are many out there that have sort of “fallen in” to a leadership position, and are still growing and learning – the pointers that you give will definitely help out many, and make them stronger, more effective leaders.

    I love your one word mantra “Sooner” – as communication is so vital to success!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Ryan,
      Very interesting point you make about “falling into leadership position”. Many do and in that light face many new demands for sudden growth.

      I am pleased that you find this post helpful and hope you will pass it on to many you believe are in that sudden leader position.

      Many thanks for your contribution. I hope you will comment on any post that taps your experience and catches your interest.


  4. sridhar says:

    I agree, good communication skills solves many problems. I remember it has SQIL, speak, question, inform and listen

  5. Steve Borek says:

    Your post makes lots of sense. Though I can see where silence is powerful.

    Yes, it’s important to communicate the message in a way that connects. As a leader, when you’re building consensus, remaining quiet is a good thing. Ask your team insightful questions and listen to what’s being said and not said.

    Some of the best leaders I’ve worked for and coached have been introverts.

  6. Khalid says:

    Hi Kate,

    I would really want to hug you for this post! You don’t know how handy this advice was to me!

    I recently took over my boss role as he is on a special assignment. My boss is an extrovert and I consider myself an introvert so you know how the team reaction when I took over. My boss has big influence on us as he used to deal with us very aggressively when demanding us to do things. My approach is different as I’m more calm but the team are not used to such style.

    I faced my first test as a leader today. There was a very long fight between my team and other team in the same department on who should get ownership of our intranet support. My team thinks that the other team is doing some of their job and this created a caious when problem happens.

    I called for a meeting and I was so confident in talking. I brought your topic of this article as the main problem in both teams which is communication. I urged both teams to forget about what happened before and they should focus on the next upgrade of our intranet to fix our existing problems. I urged agreeing on roles before starting the project and training needs for both teams. I pointed out that we should work as a TEAM from now on and share all our communication with outsiders by copying all.

    This shed light on training which my boss used not to share i with us so my team members were happy to be handled.

    I felt that I made a big victory in winning the trust of my team and respect of the other! I celebrated this with a lunch lonely outside work as a reward 🙂

    thanks million for this handy article Kate 🙂

    Your student forever,

    • Kate Nasser says:

      I am deeply honored by your kudos. I am even more impressed that you stepped into what I call the sudden leader role during times of some conflict and quickly applied communication and consensus building techniques for the benefit of all involved.

      Bravo and thank you for sharing your story. It’s the everyday examples that teach me and from where many of my blog post ideas emerge.

      Warmest regards and thanks,

  7. People like myself, who are quieter by nature, less naturally open and gregarious, can get themselves into a world of hurt by virtue of the blind spots you identify, Kate.

    Believe me, I’ve paid the price, and what I know is that the “disconnect” from others can be a very subtle thing for the quiet or private leader, but a very tangible and negative experience for others. One interesting example I’ve found with some introverted leaders that I’ve coached is the tendency to believe an action has happened if the person has thought about it, when, of course, simply thinking about doing something and actually doing it are very different!

    One I worked with had trouble remembering to complete the loop on emails that needed a simple acknowledgment (e.g., “Thanks, yes that time will work for me, see you Thursday”). That and a few other quiet behaviors and she quickly invited the perception of others that she thought she was superior and didn’t need to reply! Silence is quite often interpreted as some kind of power trip.

    I tend to look at this issue through the lens of how people actively build their relationships and what they may do to enhance or detract from trust and connection. For both extroverts and introverts, abrasive, cool, impersonal or ambiguous behavior is very problematic. Warm, open, sharing and listening behaviors engage and inspire, and break down barriers to give everyone a chance to do their best work.

    Your statement that this is “definitely not an exercise in being accepted for who you are” is, to me, the most powerful line of this whole, wonderful post. We can all get hooked very quickly believing that we shouldn’t have to change. And then we resist — and stay small.

    But there’s another way to look at this, just as there’s a mirror-image post that could be written for extroverted leaders. That other way is to see how we all are naturally moving over the course of a career and a lifetime toward greater and greater versatility and personal fulfillment. In that, all styles and temperaments are incomplete; our job engages their transcendence.

    We all have work our work cut out for us as we grow into what it means to lead.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dan for once I am going to show you my extroverted style …. Thank you thank you thank you for the following addition to this post:
      “In that, all (our) styles and temperaments are incomplete; our job engages their transcendence.”

      That’s it. It is not about extroverts being better at leadership than introverts or introverts being better at deep thinking than extroverts. It’s all about people growing to transcend to another great level of themselves. Let the job take you there!

      You frequently leave great comments. Today you transcended!

      My humble regards and thanks,

      • Kate

        You are so very welcome. Could there be better testimony on behalf of teams? Differing styles combine to create something of surpassing value. And besides, we’re all both introverts and extroverts anyway, just in differing measures.

        Best to you!

  8. Peter Vajda says:

    What I get is: become comfortable with your discomfort. For me, the essence of transformational and personal growth. Thank you for your thoughts.

  9. Daniel Buhr says:

    Thank you, Kate. As an off-the-chart introvert I greatly appreciate your wise and practical advice. I was going to think about this post for awhile and respond later, but decided to go with a simple and sincere THANK YOU! now.

  10. Micah Yost says:

    This is an awesome post, Kate. Thanks so much for taking on this subject. While I’m not much of an introvert myself, I have struggled with developing leaders who are. There is not a lot of great content out there on the subject. Thanks for putting some quality stuff together in this vein. Would love to see more. I think there is a really need.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      So pleased to hear that you found this post valuable Micah. Diversity in personality type is a huge obstacle IF people let it be. I’m not much of an introvert either yet I practice and teach the art of adapting to personality type for tangible practical reasons.

      I hope you will share this post with all whom you believe will find it helpful.
      Regards and thanks,

  11. Barbara Rawlinson says:

    Another very insightful post from you, Kate. I work in a large global company and at present none of my team mates are in the same country as I am. In the reply you gave to Ed Perry’s post, you made 3 very valid points about communicating over a distance. I’d love to see you expand further on that topic in a future post.

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