Human Management: Leading Introverts


Gartner, an international consultancy, has identified “human management” as being the next step in the evolution of management. They describe human management as being made up of authenticity, empathy and adaptiveness.

These human management “soft skills” are key to getting the most out of your varied team. They are key to unlocking the potential of an often overlooked and underrated personality type, the Introvert.

Managing Personalities

Leaders and Managers have to understand that the biggest challenge when nurturing a thriving culture is handling a range of personalities with varying temperaments and qualities. One technique to improve your human leadership qualities is understanding those team members on the introverted side of the introvert/extrovert spectrum and the traits that are associated with introverts.

Unsurprisingly, leadership methods that may work fantastically for your extroverted team members may not get the best results out of your introverted colleagues.

It’s well known that human beings all fall somewhere on the introvert/extrovert spectrum between extremely introverted and highly extroverted. However, it’s not always so black and white, you may have team members that are only semi-introverted (or, on the contrary, semi-extroverted).

Here are some ideas on ways to manage your introverted team members in a more human centric leadership style.

Who Works Well With Whom?

Psychometric testing is a tool used by a wide range of big companies. There are a multitude of assessments available online, however, it is advisable to go with an established provider such as Atrium HR Consulting who pioneered Psychometric testing with their Risk Type Compass assessment. Atrium provides custom packages of the Risk Type Compass Assessment to suit large or small teams.

These psychometric assessments are designed to provide managers with a clearer picture of the varied personalities within their team. Learn your colleague’s strengths and weaknesses, and which members of your team will likely clash with one-another if paired up. By gaining this valuable insight into what makes your team tick, you will be one step closer to becoming a human centric leader.

A Quiet Place

When leading introverts, it is important to remember that not everyone under your leadership will be as productive in crowded, high interaction environments. Some of the brightest ideas and suggestions may not be heard or voiced in a crowded, competitive environment like a typical board meeting room, where team members have to interject to get their point across or be put on the spot in front of the rest of the team.

It could be very beneficial for the more introverted members of your team to have access to workspaces in a private, more tranquil space. Finding the time to chat with these individuals on a one-on-one basis may work wonders for brainstorming solutions and gauging feedback that may have been drowned out or held back in a busier meeting/work space.

Be aware that introverted team members exert more energy on tasks which involve heavy interaction with other people, whereas an extrovert may seek out and gain energy from similar interactions. Introverts can still do group tasks and do them well! However, they may also appreciate having a quiet space to take a moment to recharge their social batteries during times of heavy social interaction and group projects.

Introverts and Meetings

Studies have shown that in meetings of six or more, two people often do over 60% of the talking. It is a common trait for introverts to think and overanalyse their ideas before contributing to a group meeting. On the other hand, many extroverts speak openly and externalise their thought process.

It can be easily assumed that an introvert is not engaging with a meeting or conference, however, this is not necessarily the case. Perhaps, with the additional internal processing time required by introverts, it would be a good idea for a leader to share the planned contents of a meeting shortly before the meeting is held. This would give introverted team members additional time to formulate comments ahead of the meeting, rather than having to improvise on the spot.

It would also be a nice idea to encourage post meeting feedback to be sent to you via email or later on in person, this would encourage your introverted team members to contribute more even if that contribution comes slightly after the meeting.

Introverted Managers

Introverts can be successful leaders too, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg being too examples of introverts in leadership positions. Introverts are likely to arrange more one-on-one meetings and smaller group interactions where possible. They also succeed by preparing talking points ahead of time when required to address large groups.

It is encouraged that introverted leaders and managers, express their preferences in style and explain their introverted tendencies to their team so that their style is not mistaken as being cold or unengaged.

Introverted leaders have a lot to offer and may be able to provide a calmer setting in the workspace. They are known to be able to inspire growth with their more personable approach to management.

It can also make others feel safe and comfortable in their own skin, encouraging them to be themselves just as they are.