How To Develop Your Leadership Capacity as An Introvert

Dec 22, 2021 | Introversion

How To Develop Your Leadership Capacity as An Introvert

There is a perception that because introverts are quiet, they might not make great leaders.

This view is also held by some introverts themselves who feel that the typical image of a leader is one who is loud and out there. Most introverts exclude themselves because they do not believe they can be loud and out there. The tendency to step back and be observant of behaviours, to study people before contributing or not being quick at coming up with answers, is seen more as not being active and involved therefore, introverts tend to get overlooked when it comes to choosing someone to take charge.

There is great news for any introvert who feels that they are ready to step up into leading or a leadership role. First and foremost, there are different types of leaders, different situations and organisations call for different types of leadership skills to move things forward or to create change.

The second good news lies in the definition of leadership itself. My best is short and simple, “leadership is influence, no more no less”-John Maxwell

Influence is the ability and capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour of someone or something or the effect itself. (Wikipedia). I believe no matter your personality you can choose to be a positive influence on others.

I have chosen to write on leadership today as I got inspired by a conversation about my daughter. I went to see her at a show last weekend. She has been doing these shows since she was 5 years old, she is 18 now. What was unique about this show, is the fact that she is now one of the directors within her group and has more input in the way the show is developed and presented.

My daughter is an introvert, my house is an introvert house, we love it. I was narrating this to a friend and said, “It has occurred to me that my daughter seems to end up taking a leadership role wherever she finds herself, and I wonder where she gets this from, considering she is also introverted like me”. My friend looked at me and said, “from you of course”, I thought to myself, “I never stepped out as a child and most of my adult life has been characterised by shrinking back until I realised I wanted to make a difference in the world and began to step out and step up”.


As most introverts tend to go within for answers, I went within to seek out the why! and I found it. My decision to step up came around the time my daughter was born and has progressed ever since, therefore the only mum she has ever known, and the behaviours modelled for her are about stepping up and out. I have also always looked out for things that light my children up and encourage them to have a go.

On reflection about her and how life has turned out in general, alongside the work I do with clients, I have come up with 5 Key Tips I believe can help an introvert in life, work and business to see themselves as a leader, step up and out to lead, and thrive as a leader


1. Know and nurture your natural strengths:

The key to success, in general, is developing your genius zone intentionally. When it comes to leadership, enhancing your genius zone further by understanding your leadership style will make you stand out and be seen. There are at least 10 Leadership styles to consider. To explore your leadership style, take the quiz HERE. Let me know how you get on and what you learn about yourself.

2. Step out of the shadows:

The “shadows” is an introvert’s comfort zone. Deep down and at the core, an introvert’s preference is being cooked up in the house and doing solitary activities. However, that is unlikely to get you seen, heard, noticed, or put you in a position to lead and create the impact you want to create in the world. You need to decide to have a season of growth where you are nurturing yourself to step out of the shadows (comfort zone) and live out your light. I tend to tell people that “I have learnt to live in my discomfort zone”. This is a zone where I am not waiting for the pull from within, but pushing myself to stretch my capacity and increase the boundaries of my comfort zone.


3. Develop staying power

Being able to persevere through the tough growth spots and times of conscious incompetence towards conscious competence and beyond to unconscious competence is how you get to bring out the natural flare you have for leading. As a John Maxwell Coach Certified and Licensed to provide The Maxwell DISC Personality Profiling which provides insights on strengths, weaknesses, communication and leadership styles, I help clients develop leadership growth plans. Clients have found their PowerDISC™(a trademarked system by John Maxwell Team) element of the consultation very useful.

I use the results of your DISC assessment to go through insights on your strengths in leadership in 7 core areas (Influencing, Directing, Processing, Detailing, Creating, Persisting and Relating). Clients who have just been promoted to managerial positions, as well as entrepreneur clients who want to develop influence and assertiveness, have found this element of the DISC Report particularly useful in creating a growth plan which they can follow and persevere to realise their leadership potential.

4. Develop Leadership skills.

Leadership skills are built-in 3 ways

  1. Personal development – To lead yourself
  2. Leadership skills training – To know areas you need to up-level
  3. Implementation – Seeking opportunities to lead others, thereby honing your skills.

Of the three, I believe introverts are great at recognising their need for personal development because of deep self-reflection and introspection, introverts tend to be very self-aware. However, many hope to just be able to lead from personal development. This is possible until you hit what John Maxwell calls “your leadership lid”, defined as the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness

Your leadership lid caps your capacity to get people, or your business to the next level. Recognising that you need leadership skills at this point is key; it elevates your thinking, helps you develop assertiveness and emotional intelligence to lead effectively.


5. Find your Tribe/Platform.

Building your own Tribe and Platform is an effective way to implement the practical elements of leadership skills training. Introverts can come up against the difficulty of having to be the centre of attention, to always be seen and to be relied upon to lead. This is where developing delegation capacities and mentoring of others, becomes valuable. Because when you are able to build others up to represent you, you can balance the need to be seen against the need to lead, because when you mentor, you can lead through others.


There you have it, in 2022, don’t let introversion hold you back from stepping out and up to lead.


I hope you found this useful, to help you realise that introverts can develop great leadership capabilities and thrive as a leader regardless of your personality or whether you feel you are a born leader or not.


If you would like to know more about executive and leadership coaching and training that I offer or bring my personal effectiveness and leadership training to your organisation, feel free to get in touch with me HERE. I would really love to help you thrive.