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6 Ways Introverts Make Great Entrepreneurs

Few would disagree that we’re living in an extrovert’s world. In a poll conducted by USA Today, 65% of CEOs surveyed believe that an introverted personality is a hindrance in leadership roles.

Results such as these beg the question: can an introvert be a leader? The answer is a resounding “Yes.”

Despite common misperceptions, there are plenty of great qualities possessed by introverts that make them well-primed for success in roles of leadership and entrepreneurship. By exhibiting virtues such as humility, analytical thinking, creativity, and work ethic, many of the world’s greatest inventors and business leaders throughout history have used their natural introverted tendencies not as a crutch, but as an advantage.

Here are six of the top reasons why introverts make great entrepreneurs:

1. Listening is Sometimes Better than Speaking

When it comes to leadership, being a good listener is just as important as being a good speaker. The ability to quietly take in the feedback and suggestions of others is an often-overlooked trait of successful leaders. It’s also a trait more common to introverts than extroverts.

Being a good listener encourages proactivity among a workforce, particularly if the workforce is comprised of extroverted workers who like to speak out and know their input is actually taken to heart.

Since introverted leaders are usually more inclined to listen closely to those around them, they are often better at making their employees feel valued, and are also better at gaining valuable information that a poor listener might never have received.

Bruna Martinuzzi , president and founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., says that extroverted leaders “can be a liability if their followers are extroverts who like to take the initiative and make suggestions. This is because extroverted leaders are generally less receptive to proactivity.”

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, it’s critically important that you develop your ability to listen, as well as your ability to speak.

2. Introverts are Often More Humble

In the role of leadership, pride and humility must be mixed in perfect balance. While it’s important to take pride in your work and in your achievements, having humility and an accurate assessment of your abilities is equally vital to success.

While there are plenty of humble extroverts, the ability to look inwardly, set aside personal bias, and accurately assess oneself is a skill that many introverts wield more adeptly than their extroverted counterparts.

Remaining humble earns you the respect of the colleagues both above and below you. Just as important, however, is the fact that remaining humble allows you to better recognize your true strengths and weaknesses and address them both in the most effective, unbiased way.

As Jeff Boss of Entrepreneur says, “Humility entails the ability to acknowledge mistakes, imperfections, knowledge gaps and limitations – all key ingredients for getting ahead in business and life.”

By maintaining a humble (and inherently more accurate) view of himself or herself, an introverted entrepreneur is often able to present an outward demeanor that is less abrasive to those around them, as well as maintaining a perspective that will ultimately be more valuable in achieving their goals.

3. Introverts are Comfortable Working Alone

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This one goes back to the very core definitions of extroversion and introversion. Extroverts draw their energy from other people. Introverts, on the other hand, draw their energy from solitude.

While working closely with others is no doubt a crucial part of being an entrepreneur, the path to success as an innovator, an inventor, or even a leader, entails many late nights spent alone.

For introverts, this aspect of the job is not a pitfall, but rather an advantage. Introverts are known for living inside their own minds, and are perfectly comfortable spending hours at a time in solitude brainstorming new ideas or mulling over a problem.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, stressed the importance of being able to work alone when he said, “Most inventors and engineers I have met are like me – they’re shy and they live in their heads. They work best when they are alone, and can control an invention’s design. I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take: work alone. You’re going to be able to design revolutionary products and features.”

Indeed, this may be hard advice to take for an extroverted entrepreneur, but working alone is an introvert’s bread and butter.

4. Introverts are Often Highly Creative

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For some reason, creativity and introversion go hand in hand, with many of world’s best writers, artists, and inventors having introverted personalities. Perhaps solitude breeds this creativity, or perhaps it is the result of minds that are simply wired differently than those of extroverts (although there are plenty of creative extroverts as well). Whatever the reason, natural creativity is a powerful advantage of introverted leadership.

Being creative offers far more value to an entrepreneur than just brainstorming new ideas. Creativity is crucial in problem solving, since many of the complications leaders and entrepreneurs face require out-of-the-box solutions that only a highly-creative mind could produce.

Creativity is also critical in communication, especially concerning written communication. While few would argue that extroverts are usually better public speakers than introverts, introverts have the communication advantage when it comes to the written form.

Lastly, being naturally creative does give introverts an advantage in coming up with ideas for new businesses, products, and solutions that many may have never thought of before.

5. Introverts Exude Calmness and Wisdom

We’ve all witnessed this scene in some form or another: groups of men and women loudly argue around a conference table while one figure sits quietly aside, calmly absorbing everything that transpires. When he finally does speak, the entire room falls quiet and everyone in attendance hangs on his every word.

True or not, silence is often associated with strength and wisdom in our culture. While outgoing, type-A personalities can certainly exude a strength and persuasiveness of their own, there is a reason for the existence of the term “the strong, silent type.” Listening carefully, choosing your words with care, and only speaking at pointed, opportune times can certainly convey wisdom, and lead those around you to value your input more highly.

While introverts may or may not be any wiser than their extroverted counterparts, they are often calmer. Introverts have an innate ability about them to remain composed even when the walls are crumbling down around them. Since being an entrepreneur often requires weathering a few storms, introverts are sometimes better equipped to handle the more disastrous episodes that come their way.

Whether the wisdom and calmness of an introvert is a real attribute, or an illusion put forth by their personality, it certainly goes a long way in winning them the respect of those they work with, which can be a powerful advantage in its own right.

6. Introverts Focus On Depth

Introverts despise small talk. They are not known for being very adept at it, and most of them have little tolerance for it. While this may be somewhat of a weakness in social circles, it can actually play into an introvert’s hands when they are in leadership roles.

The reason for this is that, instead of dwelling on surface-level small talk, introverts dive deep, focusing on more meaningful topics and often cutting right to the heart of an issue. Introverts are known for getting people to open up to them. They are excellent at asking the right questions and breaking past barriers.

It’s not that introverts do not enjoy conversation. On the contrary, most introverts love conversation. The key difference is that they tend to only enjoy meaningful conversation, and will often do everything in their social power to move the topic into this realm.

This attribute makes introverts great at interviewing potential employees, as well as any other situation where it’s important for a leader to move past surface-level happenings and dive right into the topics that really matter.

As Jennifer Kahnweiler of Forbes says, “Introverted leaders seek depth over breadth. They like to dig deep, delving into issues and ideas before moving on to new ones. They are drawn to meaningful conversations, not superficial chitchat, and they know how to ask great questions and really listen to the answers.”

In the right setting, and with the right frame of mind, introverts can be incredibly talented conversationalists.

The Advantage of Introverted Leadership

If you are an introvert drawn towards leadership positions, there is hope. Despite common misconceptions, introverts do make excellent leaders and entrepreneurs. Likewise, if you’re in a position to promote someone to a position of leadership, be sure to consider the advantages that introverts can bring to the table.

Great leadership is certainly one of the most important aspects of any company, and ineffective leadership can sink it faster than anything else. Yet, thanks to the attributes that many introverts possess, they can be incredibly successful in roles of leadership and entrepreneurship, and add great value to any company.

What other advantages do you think there are to being an introverted leader? Let us know in the comments below:

Images: Pixabay, Pixabay

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