How to find success as an introverted leader (#59)

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Jean Latting
May 23, 2023
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Who makes a better leader, an introvert or an extrovert? Jean interviews Carol Stewart, who has some unexpected things to say about it.

Highlights from this week’s interview

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Jean introduces Carol Stewart from London. She has a Masters in Counseling Psychology and her specialty is introverted leadership. Her book is entitled Quietly Visible.


Jean: What brought you to this field of study?


Carol: I was born in the UK of Jamaican parents. I was the only Black girl in my class. I didn’t know about introversion or extroversion, but knew that I was quiet.


Carol: When I got my masters degree, I learned that it was okay to be introverted. I studied the work of Carl Jung on introversion-extroversion and began to understand that it is a preference for how we relate to the world.


Jean asks about the difference between introversion and extroversion.


Carol: Introverts are concerned with things that are internal to the mind, and can get overly stimulated by being around a lot of people, which can be very draining. People think that introverts are shy and lack confidence, and therefore don’t make good leaders.


Jean points out that a lot of people present as extroverts, but are not.


Carol: I sometimes get mistaken for an extrovert because I do public speaking. Both introverts and extroverts need to be able to adapt and modify their behavior to different environments and situations in order to get the best outcome.

Networking for introverts


Jean asks how introverted people are able to manage social gatherings.


Carol: You have to check your perspective. If you see it as an event with a lot of noise and a lot of people, you won’t want to go. But if you can switch your thinking to: why am I going? what are the benefits? how will it help in my job? you can see it differently. Focus on the results.


Carol: Also, go prepared. Study the likely topics of conversation. Decide ahead of time what points you might want to make. Think about your desired outcome. When I go networking, I prefer to have fewer more meaningful conversations, because introverts typically prefer conversation over quantity. Also, have some conversation starters up your sleeve.


Jean asks about teams, that some people dominate the conversation. Those who prefer to think about it first never get a word in edgewise when they’re ready.


Carol: Some people process before they speak. Others process while they speak. Again, prepare ahead of time. Do some of your thinking in advance. You can also speak up and say “I will have something to say about this later, just give me some time.”


Jean asks, what about people who are afraid to say the wrong thing?


Carol: Anxiety can be a big trap. It’s a question of managing your fears. Make an appointment with yourself to worry later, and remind yourself that you were hired because you were the right person for that job. Practice some self-affirmation.


Jean: Are there racial differences in introversion-extroversion?


Carol: Not that I can see, although being Black in a White environment can lead to imposter syndrome and self-doubt.


Jean: What about the perfectionists?


Carol: A lot of introverts are perfectionists. I coach them to define a level of good enough. Are you meeting a standard that’s higher than expected? Strive for excellence, not for perfection. The world doesn’t end if we’re not perfect, and imagining the worst possible outcome rarely pans out.


Jean: What is the most likely mistake made by an introverted leader?


Carol: Introverted leaders who try to be extroverted when they’re not will come across as unauthentic. It’s stressful, and has a negative effect on their confidence.


Jean asks what are the special gifts of introverted leaders?


Carol: Being able to think and reflect is a strength. Being empathetic is a strength. Being a good listener is a strength. And introverts don’t hog the limelight.

young black woman listening to music traveling by bus looking out the window


Jean: How can someone reach you?


Carol: My website is

Carol Stewart

Executive and Career Coach, Host of Quietly Visible podcast

Known as the Coach for High Achieving Introverted Women, Carol Stewart is an Executive and Career Coach. She coaches women who are senior leaders to be visible, to exude presence, to influence, and make an impact. She also delivers workshops, training, and talks.

Named one of Britain’s Top 50 Business Adviser in 2015 by Enterprise Nation; in 2018 Carol won a We Are The City, Rising Star Champion award for her work helping women progress as leaders; and in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 named a LinkedIn Top Voice UK. Carol’s book Quietly Visible: Leading With Influence and Impact as an Introverted Woman was listed as one of the 10 best self-development books written by women to read during lockdown by BEYOUROWN.

Carol has a MSc Coaching Psychology, is a Member of the Association for Coaching and a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management. She is the host of the Quietly Visible podcast and a semi-regular columnist for the Sheffield Telegraph.

Connect with Carol:

Questions to ask ourselves:

  1. Do you consider yourself introverted? Extroverted? Somewhere between the two? How does that influence your group interactions?
  2. Do you think first, then speak? Do you think while you’re speaking? Try to imagine interacting with your opposite so you both have your say.

Leading Consciously concepts and skills
covered in this blog post: 

  • Conscious use of self
    • Seek to understand others’ perspectives; put yourself in their shoes
    • Focus on the other person’s strengths
    • Adopt a learning orientation
  • Testing assumptions
    • Move out of the answer and into the question
    • Avoid either/or thinking; look for multiple points of view
    • Test your assumptions about others

#Inclusion   #ImposterSyndrome   #IntrovertedLeadership   #ListeningEffectively

Leading Consciously

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