Future Leaders. What’s in Store. (What’s a store?)
March 23, 2015
Fit in or stand out? Inclusion means both.
April 6, 2015

Introverts have always been with us, even though the term was not popularized until the 20th century by Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist Carl Jung. His ideas on extroversion and introversion have been incorporated into the popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and the word introvert has become part of everyday language.
According to Susan Cain in her book cain quiet coverQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, introverts favor their own mental life. Their energy rises in reflection and diminishes during interaction. They are the employees in your organization who find more pleasure in front of their computers, working, reading, and composing.

Their vacations find them fishing or taking part in other solitary forms of relaxation and escape. In their free time, they engage in other solitary activities closer to home, if not at home. In terms of Leadership Attraction Powers, they exhibit a great degree of Reflection.

Introverts are your artists, engineers, and inventors. They may pass on company get-togethers, and when they show, you’re likely to find them alone, disengaged, or uncomfortably failing to make small talk. They may choose other introverts as companions at work.

When they work, they focus fiercely on a one activity at a time and stick with it until they finish. Introverts tend to analyze what they will say before they speak. Often overwhelmed and shut down by people who say whatever comes into their heads or speak before they think, they prefer to share their ideas when they are asked.

Cain laments that our culture becomes more and more commercial and rewards the loudest among us. She points out that our present-day Culture of Personality has replaced a Culture of Character. She holds up Abraham Lincoln as an icon of our lost, more contemplative culture.

Rather than disparage extroverts, Cain reminds readers of the value of introverts and the important role they play in our organizations. I’ve listed eight work habits that make introverts very valuable to organizations.


  1. Make better listeners
  2. Think before they speak
  3. Don’t quit until they finish
  4. Work diligently and independently
  5. Discourage recklessness and haste
  6. Possess a keen moral backbone
  7. Keep organizations socially conscious
  8. Foresee dangerous situations

On the other side of the equation, keep in mind that introverts can be more fragile. They may become upset and less productive if their work processes are interrupted too often or modified too drastically.

Cain encourages leaders to practice patience with introverts, but at the same time to challenge them to help make it comfortable for them to come out, share their ideas, and to learn from interaction as well as to be heard.

Quiet Giants

In Eight Ways For Introverts To Shine At Work, Christina Park marks Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and Marissa Mayer—all powerful leaders—as introverts. Park offers tips for introverts. I’ve used her advice and other research to list ways you as a leader can value your introverts and make the most of what they have to offer.

  1. Make a point of always seeking the ideas and opinions of employees who do not speak up in meetings
  2. Give your quieter workers the necessary time, space, tools, and resources to accomplish their work
  3. Encourage teamwork without eliminating independent work
  4. Use social media and virtual communication to give introverts the ability to thoughtfully express their ideas
  5. Protect your introverts from the political agendas of more aggressive employees
  6. Recognize and reward the achievements and contributions that introverts may not call your attention to
  7. Give introverts the opportunity to lead teams and projects
  8. Coach introverts to build the social skills that will advance their careers

In all of these approaches, use your Leadership Intimacy skills to apply the Platinum Rule and treat your introverts as they want to be treated.


Helanie Scott
Helanie Scott
Helanie (pronounced yeh-LAH-nee) Scott, CEO and founder of Align4Profit in Dallas, Texas, has driven stunning leadership and cultural transformations for an impressive list of organizations. She has mastered the ability to connect with her audiences in the boardroom, classroom, on stage, or in one-on-one coaching sessions. Helanie’s Align4Profit clients rave at the way her engaging programs freshen outdated mindsets and deliver results-oriented, aligned action.