If you identify as an introvert, you might recall a moment in your career when you felt your introverted characteristics held you back from getting ahead.
Being introverted doesn’t mean you don’t like people, are antisocial or aren’t just as capable of developing strong and meaningful business relationships as your extroverted counterparts. As an introvert myself, I make it a point to encourage every team within my technology startup to provide all employees with opportunities to grow into leadership roles. Extroverts may be more likely to speak in a meeting or promote their own accomplishments, but that doesn’t mean their contributions are more valuable.
If you’re an introvert and work for a company that does not proactively seek to equally recognize and reward both types, you can still take charge of your own career and obtain opportunities you may feel are out of reach. Don’t exclude yourself from the management path if the leaders you interact with are mostly extroverted — and just as important, don’t feel like you need to mimic their behaviors in order to succeed. Instead, approach your work through the lens of how your unique traits can benefit your position and your organization.
Obtaining more responsibility or a promotion often requires going above and beyond your daily tasks and exceeding goals. Great leaders do all of this, but they also look for areas where their contributions can help advance the business. Leverage your strengths as an introvert by listening, documenting needs within your team and identifying opportunities to improve processes or create new programs or features.
Build individual relationships
As an introvert, you can create opportunities for yourself by offering your unique abilities in independent problem solving and analysis. Build strong one-on-one relationships with key stakeholders including your boss and other co-workers, and use your analytical mind to understand each person’s objectives and how you can help him or her to reach goals. Be sure to document project objectives and find a way to highlight results when you achieve them.
Go for the promotion
If you are an introvert, don’t shy away from leadership opportunities. Take a moment to reflect on what makes a great leader and how your strengths as an introvert might be much more aligned with these traits than you realized. Introverts and extroverts each can add huge value to their roles and organizations, and neither should outshine the other in opportunities for promotions, recognition and leadership.
Rajeev Behera is the CEO of Reflektive, a performance feedback company.
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