You put in the time, effort, and energy to your role this past year. Sleepless nights, feeling burned out, overworked—but it was worth it. You’re finally promoted to team lead. An elated feeling sweeps over you. Then reality sets in.
How am I going to manage a team of 10 people if I’m an introvert?
You dislike group meetings. It takes hours to decompress after a one-on-one with your manager. Now you’ll be leading one-one-ones and group meetings. If you thought you had a bad people hangover before, get ready. You’re now in charge of your team. You’ll have to deliver results while keeping everybody happy.
How will you survive the onslaught? Can you cope with managerial tasks without sacrificing sanity?
The road ahead will be a daunting one. But you’re an introvert—thinking ahead is what you do. You’ll handle this just fine. But you’ll need to cope with four different aspects of being a manager:
- Choosing a managerial style
- One-on-one meetings
- Team meetings
- Executive meetings
This is the go-to manual for introverted managers. Read on to see how easy it is to lead your team to success.
Try a Laissez-Faire Management Style
So—you lead a team with many different personalities. Your task is to create a productive and stress-free working environment. You have to get to know all of your team members. And you know how draining it will be. Worse, each person approaches their work in different ways. Do you take the time to get to know everyone, or is there a better way to approach it through a management style?
Choose the latter. You can only give so much of yourself on a daily basis. You have other tasks to do not involving managing relationships and personalities. But your management style can solve some of these problems—if you choose the right one. The best management style: a laissez-faire one. Research shows employee satisfaction rises when they are given the freedom and responsibility for the quality of their work. It’s all about autonomy. And it helps you avoid micromanaging 20 people at the same time.
Let people handle more of their own decision making. If someone poses a problem ask: what do you think we should do? Posing the question back to them forces each employee to think—and they will have good solutions as well. Delegate and detach. You won’t feel emotionally involved in the ups-and-downs of daily work-life.
Perfect Your Personal Meeting Style
You have 10 scheduled one-on-ones this week. They’re pivotal to learning your employees’ communication styles. It’s the best way to get feedback on how their work is going. But it takes a toll on your nerves. As an empath, you feel deeply. In such a personal setting, you’re bound to give your all—and your energy levels will replenish.
Don’t let the onslaught of personal meetings crush you. You’ll have to be prepared. For your employee, a one-on-one might be the most important meeting of the week. They set the agenda. It’s your time to listen and hear them out. But you should give advice when they ask for it.
The most effective time to schedule smaller meetings is in the late morning. This way, you can recharge over your lunch break. Ask open-ended questions:
- What’s a recent situation you wish you handled differently?
- What would have you changed?
- What have your past managers done that you’d like me to also do or not do?
You don’t do well with small talk and irrelevant noise. And you want to make sure you get the most out of these meetings. Being prepared with a set of deeper questions will do the trick.
Use the Best Meeting Style for Introverts
There’s an important team meeting today. Major issues came up this week. The team needs to find a solution. You’re tasked with leading the discussion. All eyes are on you. Welcome to the introverts’ worst nightmare. How do you survive?
The obvious answer? Be prepared. Your team will look to you to lead so you should know what you’ll say. But leading doesn’t mean dominating. As an introvert, that’s not your style anyway. The best managers guide people. It’s your responsibility to involve the team. Call on them to share opinions and insights. If you sense someone’s disengaged, call his name and ask an easy question. Interaction is critical.
If you find it difficult to speak to larger groups, focus on a friend in the room. Try to talk to them while still addressing the room or group. Focusing on a confidant can take the pressure off.
Last, look at scheduling. Do your best to schedule big meetings only once a day. You can keep from getting drained by scheduling larger meetings in the late afternoon. That way, it happens just before you and others go home.
C-Level Meetings: Your Time to Shine!
One-on-one and group meetings are a cinch compared to executive meetings. With higher-ups, you have to bring your A-game. You over prepare. You dread talking. And you’re worried you’ll come off unenthusiastic because you don’t like small talk. Do you have to play the part of an extrovert while draining all your energy levels?
C-level meetings are the place for introverts to shine. Think about it. For executives, time is money. They don’t want to repeat themselves. They want people to listen actively. They don’t want someone who only works in their team’s best interest. They want leaders who see the big picture. As an introvert, you’re the perfect employee.
Channel your introverted side in these meetings. Only speak when you have a decent contribution to make. Don’t take the extroverted route, talking because you feel you have to. When you do speak, executives will take notice. This gives more weight to what you are saying.
Being an A+ introverted manager is tough.
You know the workplace is designed for extroverts. Worse, now your task is to manage them.
But—if you implement some changes listed here, you’re bound for success. Choose a laissez-faire management style, be prepared for one-on-ones, and thrive in those C-level meetings.
Following this how-to guide will result in a happier and more productive team. And it’ll help you deal with the onslaught of employee interaction as an introvert.
So, stay true to your strengths as an introvert and make some changes to manage your weaknesses—
And you won’t lose your sanity in the process.