Skip to main content

7 Ways Introversion Works Well for Me as a Senior Leader

I remember several years ago reading an article, which suggested the majority of senior leaders think extroversion is necessary to be an effective as a senior leader. Obviously – and hopeful I am correct – I disagree. And, I think we’ve come a long way in our thinking. Thankfully.

In fact, I see benefits in being an introverted senior leader.

I also know people who can’t believe I can pastor a large church and be introverted. I’ve written before about the false assumptions of introverts. Introverts can be just as caring, loving and “shepherding” as extroverts. It’s a personality trait, not a heart monitor.

But, again, I see benefits in being a lead pastor and an introvert.

Here are 7 ways introversion works well for me as a senior leader:

I think first and speak later.

I don’t stick my foot in my mouth very many times. I’m not saying extroverts do, but I am saying that as an introverts I tend to choose my words very carefully. One characteristic of the personality is we don’t speak quickly. We choose our words more intentionally. Understand, I do say things I regret, but it doesn’t happen often.

I’m less likely to struggle with the loneliness of leadership.

This is a real leadership emotion, and I certainly have it some, but I’m very comfortable being alone in a room to my thoughts. Long runs by myself are energizing to me. I know many extroverted leaders who can get very lonely – and some days for them are very difficult, especially when they are in the midst of harder leadership decisions.

I create intentional moments.

My introversion forces me to be very intentional about my time interacting with others. I say continually to introverted leaders – introversion should never be a crutch or an excuse for not engaging with people. Leadership is a relational process for all of us. But, my relational time is very focused. I tend to make the most of my time. A calendar is one of my essential leadership tools. Sunday mornings I’m the most extroverted person in our church building. It’s strategic, intentional, and I enjoy it – because I truly love people – even though it is draining.

It’s easy to concentrate on the big picture.

You’ll seldom find me chit-chatting. It’s not that I don’t have casual conversations – I certainly do when I’m connecting with people – but communication for me is usually very purposeful. As a result, I tend to be able to be very big picture oriented. Very strategic in my thinking. I step back and observe everything often. I’m a deep thinker. Those are traits especially strong with most introverts. That has proven to be very profitable for my leadership and the teams I lead.

Processed randomness.

People often wonder if I know how to have fun. “Pastor you seem so serious” or “What do you do for fun?” I hear comments like this frequently. Those are usually people who only see me when I’m working and don’t know me very well. And, I do work hard, but I can sometimes be seen as the class clown too – by those who get to know me. Some of this comes through online. But when those times occur, they are usually intentional times. My work is caught up, I have done all the things I have to get done, and I’m ready to “come out and play”. This quality can be in extroverts or introverts, but for me as an introvert, they are more intentional moments than spontaneous.

I network intentionally.

I recognize the value of every conversation I have. So, I have lots of conversations. Every Sunday is a gold mine of networking opportunities. Plus, I meet dozens of people every week in the community where I serve. I enjoy meeting people knowing that people are my purpose – and I love people – I really do. More than this, I love how God wants to develop and grow people, and I see my role in that as a teacher. People are the reason for everything I do.

I tend to listen well.

People on my team usually have a very good chance of having their voice heard, because in any meeting setting, I don’t feel the need to be the one always talking. My introversion allows me to be quiet, sit back, listen, and reflect and offer input when and where most needed.

Sure there are struggles with being an introvert at times, but I have found it to be a blessing in my leadership. It is who I am – it is NOT a curse. Much of that has to do with how I manage my introversion in an often very extroverted world.

How does introversion make you an effective leader?

Related Posts

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

More posts by Ron Edmondson

Join the discussion 14 Comments

  • MsB says:

    I will never be able to express how deeply enriching this article was for my soul. God bless and thank you

  • Ray Wagoner says:

    Thanks for the encouragement and insight. I agree that we introverts have much to offer the world of church leadership and discipleship. I do find that my struggle is more with the ability to network. I have asked numerous people, mostly getting the response to read books like, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Books for extroverts that make my skin crawl at the idea of never eating lunch alone or handing out a business card to a perfect stranger because I know that's as far as the awkward conversation will go. I have read one book about networking for introverts, but it was mostly practical advice for true "networking seminars."
    Could you give a little more insight on how you keep track of all that networking on a Sunday. I can find the time to dig into one or two deep conversations on a Sunday, but not to keep track of all the folks and their names that I had small talk with.
    Thanks for your ministry and time!

    • ronedmondson says:

      I'm very honest with people that I can't keep track of all of it. I asked people to email me so that I can put a name and a face together or to remind me about things that we've talked about. We are fairly large church and so I interact with a lot of people every Sunday. I'm honest with my church about my introversion but I tell them I truly love people and hope they learn that based on my actions. I guess what I do is try to look for the biggest wins. I want to keep people who help build the church for example. Business leaders, influencers, strong families who will join the church immediately get to work. I'm very strategic and who I try to interact with on a regular basis. But I see it as having an overall purpose of building the kingdom. That fuels me.For example, a new family moved to town, they're checking out churches, and I can tell immediately that would be great assets to what God is doing at our church. I can be very extroverted I'm that moment and be very intentional to flow up with them.

  • Nova says:

    I am an introvert. I could not agree more. The best thing about it, for me, is that the level of focus I can have in planning and carrying out things. I tend to be very effective and productive, and I can work on a faster pace. On the other hand, I would welcome the idea of working with others as it's more fun when working with more people.

  • Mike says:

    I couldn't agree with you more on this. Introversion is actually a good tool that can be utilized to your advantage. This shouldn't stop anyone from becoming a great leader. Thank you for this, it is very inspiring.

  • justinhiebert says:

    As an introvert I appreciate this list and would echo similar sentiments. I think the misperception is that I'm reserved because I don't like someone or something, chances are I'm just processing and evaluating.

  • Kevin says:

    Thanks for this post. It's always encouraging for me to know I don't need to be an extrovert to be an effective pastor/leader.

  • jonstallings says:

    Thanks for posting Ron. I am an Introvert. Maybe it is just me but I have probably met more Senior Pastors who were introverts than extroverts. I am conformable preaching in front of the crowd but I have to be more intentional with the small group and one on one interactions.