Four people sit around a small conference table in an office. The woman sitting at the head of the table is speaking and gesturing to an open laptop. The other three people around the table, two men and a woman, are watching her with pens in their hands. In the background are shelves filled with thick binders.
Introverts have many characteristics of successful bosses, including resilience, resourcefulness and strong conflict resolution skills. — Getty Images/PeopleImages

Every business needs decisive, reliable leaders who can connect with and motivate employees. Ineffective or impersonal managers and bosses can drive away team members or tank worker morale. However, introverts may struggle with some aspects of management, such as confronting difficult employees and supporting extroverted team members.

At the same time, introverts stand out for their empathetic approach to professional relationships and thoughtful decision-making. Here's how to lead your team and become a great boss.

Introverts as leaders: qualities and challenges

Effective leaders possess various management competencies, from being problem-solvers to decision-makers. Communication is at the core of many valued traits. According to a survey of global leaders, 56% said a top leadership competency involves clearly communicating expectations, and 46% said leaders should communicate often and openly.

For the introvert, it can be hard to cope with confrontation, communicate frequently and engage with extroverted employees. Moreover, introverts struggle to make quick decisions and may have less risk tolerance than their extroverted counterparts.

Introverts possess many skills that make a successful leader, including:

  • Cross-cultural communication skills.
  • Resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness.
  • Conflict management skills.
  • Being a visionary and strategist.
  • Business acumen.
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure.
  • Ability to manage change.
  • Excelling in team empowerment and growth.

[Read more: How to Tell if You're an Introvert or Extrovert at Work]

Overcome communication challenges

Communication is critical to keeping employees engaged and projects on track. However, a Gallup poll found that "7% of US workers strongly agree that communication is accurate, timely and open where they work," and "only about half of all workers strongly agree that they know what is expected of them at work." Therefore, introverts and extroverts alike should assess their communication efforts and actively work to improve them.

Defining boundaries and giving yourself time to reflect can help you be a better boss.

Here are a few ways to improve communication with staff:

  • Practice active listening: Listen to employees, take note of word choice and let people know you hear them. One way to do this is by repeating what your employee says back to them.
  • Follow up after meetings: Review your session using recordings and transcripts. Recap the discussion, add your after-meeting thoughts and assign tasks or projects.
  • Be consistent: Decide how you'll check in with employees and convey your process. For instance, you could send a weekly email recapping the week and automate reminders as deadlines approach.
  • Encourage feedback: Give teams access to communication tools to use their preferred channel to express concerns.

Set realistic boundaries

Introverts gain energy and bounce back with alone time. In contrast, human interaction energizes extroverts. Defining boundaries and giving yourself time to reflect can help you be a better boss. Use technology tools to set your presence status, conveying your availability throughout the day. Build thinking time into your day by setting your phone to do not disturb (DND) and blocking off time in your calendar.

[Read more: How to Succeed in Business if You're an Introvert]

Make faster decisions

Decisiveness is a key quality of a leader, yet introverts often take more time to decide than extroverts. According to the CEO Genome Project, "these smart but slow decision makers become bottlenecks, and their teams either grow frustrated (which can lead to the attrition of valuable talent) or become overcautious themselves, stalling the entire enterprise." Consider working with a mentor or coach to speed up your thinking process and make faster decisions.

Empower employees

Empowered teams express higher levels of job satisfaction, are more productive and are committed to their coworkers and company. As a result, they deliver better customer service. Introverts can support others by creating a safe and trusted environment, building relationships and nurturing growth.

Empower your team by:

  • Improving accountability: Define processes for checking in with teams, updating project statuses and reviewing performance.
  • Coaching employees: Establish a personal rapport with your staff and schedule regular one-on-one meetings to work on performance goals and share information and resources.
  • Prioritizing proactivity: Encourage team members to spearhead projects and personally invest in outcomes.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Where business leaders go to grow

CO— is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Published February 18, 2022