Courageous Introverts

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This article originally appeared in the Price Associates magazine.

The business and organizational world is reawakening to the value of introverted leaders. In any cultural movement (e.g. the women’s movement of the 20s or the civil rights movement of the 60s), it is required that a few courageous frontrunners step forward breaking the new ground. Existing power structures typically resist these attempts that challenge the status quo. Introverts, unlike extroverts, are dispositionally less comfortable with change, less prone to take risk, and more conflict-avoidant. However, when the present state of affairs creates sufficient internal energy, the requisite moral courage to resist the way things are propels, even compels, them forward to action. Introverts are by nature slower moving, thoughtful, careful and analytical people. They are not typically the bullies on the playground. Theirs is not a revolution by aggression. They pursue change in a different way.

These pioneers will be required to have the necessary moral courage to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of the cause. They will have to make themselves vulnerable to misunderstanding, ridicule and derision from the existing power structures as they seek to promote a new, better and more balanced way in both the organizations they lead and society at large. Brave introverts are increasingly finding boldness to cease their silence and finding words to speak wisdom into the quiet.

Introverted leaders, uniquely positioned to mentor rising Millennials, are awakening within organizations and society. They are beginning to detox from the invalidation of the culture around them and from their own internal dialogue. They are reframing their definition of leadership and beginning to see their unique strengths in a fresh light. This is opening the doors for the renewed leverage of 51 percent of the workforce and 40 percent of CEOs, namely introverts. For introverted leaders, this is a new day. Led by current examples such as Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffett, Steve Wosniak and looking back at historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, who stepped up to lead in arguably the most critical moment in the history of the Union, courageous introverts are stepping forward to bring their unique strengths to the leadership balance we need to be healthy, thriving and successful organizations.

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