I have been reading a series of articles called, Leading as an Introvert, and finding them very helpful. One article in particular was especially enlightening, it was called: What Introverted Leadership Looks Like : know how to lead others according to your strengths by Adam S. McHugh. I’ve quoted a couple of paragraphs here. The first one is about communication.
An indispensable instrument in the toolbox of an introverted leader is “over-communication.” The “over” in this strategy will only be perceived by introverts; to extroverts this is just “communication.” Aware of our proclivity for enigmatic silence, introverted leaders act in love and understanding toward extroverts when we practice communication that is unnatural to us: we give more feedback and affirmation than we think is necessary; we repeat ourselves, even several times when making an important point; we contort our faces and gesticulate; and we sometimes give expression to incomplete thoughts to let extroverts know that we’re engaged in the conversation.
I laughed when I read this because it is so true. I hate repeating myself, but I have also found, like this paragraph says, that it is necessary to do what he says – repeat myself, contort my face and gesticulate – especially when dealing with a group of extroverts.
This second paragraph I thought was interesting not so much for what it had to say about introverts but for what it had to say about the shift in leadership paradigms.
Postmodernity has precipitated shifts in our leadership paradigms. In modernity, a hierarchical model of leadership was normative, and people separated themselves from others through expertise and position. Postmodern culture facilitates more egalitarian and collaborative forms of leadership and ministry. A successful postmodern leader will motivate others through relational skills and persuasion, not position and decree. Leadership in postmodern culture is not appointed by the Powers-That-Be; true leadership is given by a community to those people who have earned their trust and respect.
As he says there has been a major shift in the way leadership is understood and those of us who are my age and older need to realize that the hierarchical model of leadership just won’t work any more. So as introverts (and extroverts) we have may have to learn to adjust our leadership style.
The article is available as part of the downloadable book, Leading as an Introvert at Building Church Leaders. There is a cost involved.