7 Tips for Introverted Leaders

Rev. Toni G. Boehm

It’s Sunday afternoon, service is over and you, the minister or spiritual leader go home and collapse— taking a one or two hour nap. Have you ever wondered why this is so prevalent a ritual among ministers? There is one possible answer; ever since Unity started using the Myers-Briggs personality assessment it has become apparent that the majority (70% or more) of Unity Leaders are Introverts. Introverts who can get up and do a fabulous Sunday morning and then want to run after the service into their offices and “regroup”. They don’t however, they stay and interact and often stay for workshops presented by outside persons or consultants.

People are often surprised when I share this for most believe that ministers must be extroverted. After all, they always leading groups, speaking on Sundays, holding meetings, meeting with people and the board – often knowing they would rather be alone. A paradox in the making. My husband says, I am a ambivert – one who is introvert for renewal and yet loves being with people.

Being introverted doesn’t mean that we don’t like people it has to do with how we refresh and renew. Being with people actually depletes the reserves of an introvert, while an extrovert will glean energy from people. Introverts dread big gatherings and dinners and would rather send an email than go and visit in a large group, while an extrovert is just the opposite. Neither is good or bad, just different ways of recharging. .

Compensating for Introversion

Leaders in order to lead effectively must learn what their dominate style is and then work to lead effectively through using it in a positive manner that supports them and their team. The following are seven principles for leading as an introverted leader created by Thom S. Rainer and adapted somewhat..

1. Practice LBWA, leadership by walking around.

a. Don’t stay confined to the comforts and seclusion of my office. Leaders must be seen by staff, as well as by constituents and customers. We need to be around people in order to develop relationships. The same goes for pastors. While an introvert should not plan too much interaction, force yourself to get out among the members of your church frequently, even if only for brief periods of time.

2. Be transparent about your introversion.

a. Being open will allow people to understand you better. If people know you are an introvert, they will be less likely to misinterpret a quiet and reticent nature as a lack of interest or unfriendliness.

3. When possible, keep meetings short.

a. The longer a meeting, the more introverts get drained.

4. As much as possible, try to have an extrovert with you when in public or group settings.

a. The extrovert can help carry the conversation. You can nod my head and smile.

5. Be accountable to an extrovert.

a. It’s important to have someone you trust who can speak to you truthfully and remind you when you are sinking into extreme introversion. If you appear to be acting like an uninterested jerk, that friend does not hesitate to tell you. S/he can give a notice of how your ctions or lack of actions may be perceived.

6. Use social media as your voice.

a. Introverts often struggle with being social in person, but typically don’t mind writing. The more people see you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or a blog, the more they will feel like they know you, even though you don’t have one-on-one interaction with them. Social media is a great tool for introverts.

7. Schedule time to recover.

a. Recharge my batteries often, or you will I become a useless leader. But don’t succumb to the temptation to perpetuate the downtime. Return to all of the principles stated above.

It is possible for introverts to lead. But it takes effort. Don’t allow your personality to be an excuse to keep you from doing what Spirit has called you to do.

Rev. Toni G. Boehm is USCR Ministry Consultant. She is available to the region to support you and your ministry in being the best you can be through Board Trainings, Vision, Mission, Core Value creation; Culture Identification Workshops; and so much more.

Please contact Boehm at – 816-304-3044 or revtboehm@aol.com, for further information on what is available for your ministry.