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Introvert leadership in Technology & Engineering

28/07/16 Andy Raymond Director, Redline Executive

There is a common perception that extroverts are excellent networkers, make great public speakers which and are the core competences of today’s Engineering and Technology organisation leaders. Introverts are not usually associated with these character traits.

Having the ability to lead others is a skill which is continuously changing and depends on the company you are leading and the sector you are in. Factors such as organisational structure and company culture play a significant role in the approach and procedures that influence how people should be managed. However, if you are more ‘introvert’ by nature, the concept of managing people can be frightening, or you believe you lack the qualities to do this. For those who are in engineering or technology jobs, your career may progress down a path which requires you to lead a team or an entire business.

Andy Raymond, Head of Redline Executive has over 30 years’ experience in recruiting senior management, Technology & Engineering leaders at Board and Director Level. Andy is a licensed practitioner for Thomas International Personality and Intelligence Testing and an Industry trained Competency Based Interview (CBI) practitioner which has allowed him to meet, analyse and profile ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ candidates.

Andy explains “Introvert and extrovert leaders do learn differently, and this can create challenges in the Technology sector. To be an effective leader in the engineering and technology world, technical expertise is a distinct advantage, however having people skills is essential. Many people associate leadership with perceived extrovert qualities. That vocal, high-energy stereotype is just one type of leader. The fact is, good leadership comes in many shapes, sizes and personality types. The reality is that businesses need both types of leaders.”

There are many Introvert technology entrepreneurs and leaders; Bill Gates - founder of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook COO, Guy Kawasaki- God Father of Silicon Valley. But what characteristics made these leaders succeed in leading the world’s most successful Technology companies?

Introverts are cautious

Unlike their extroverted counterparts who are more pre-disposed to risk taking, introverts take a circumspect approach to chance. This is why extrovert leaders in the Technology industry are often the type who would say “Let’s just do it!”’ when making business decisions. Whereas an introvert leader would prefer to question whether it is the right decision to make. Technology leaders who recognise predisposed decision making is a method of making impactful business decisions.

Introverts learn by listening

Introverts listen intently to what others say and absorb what is said before replying. They do not think of what to say whilst the other person is speaking. Introverts rather listen to what is said, then they learn what to say, which a great characteristic for today’s leaders.

Introverts demonstrate humility

Introverts tend to have an accurate sense of their abilities and achievements. Humility entails the ability to acknowledge mistakes, knowledge and skills gaps, imperfections and limitations, which are all key attributes for leadership roles. Being self-effacing indicates a leader is open to hear new and to receiving contradictory information.

Introverts can control uncertainty

Introverts have lower sensitivity to external rewards than extroverts. They have the ability to work with little information and resist self-defeating forces. Introverts have the proficiency to find solutions that are not initially apparent, which is a highly sought after expertise required for today’s Engineering and Technology leaders.

Introverts can work independently

Introverts are comfortable working alone and prefer working in isolation as it affords the greatest opportunity of focus. The co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak said in his autobiography iWoz “Most inventors and engineers I have met are like me, they are shy and they live in their heads. They work best when they are alone, and can control an invention’s design. I’m going to give you some advice that might be hard to take: work alone. You’re going to be able to design revolutionary products and features.” The myth that introverts are less effective leaders than their extroverted brethren is just that. Leverage your personality strengths to lead your business no matter what side of the spectrum you fall on.

For more information visit Redline Executive.