| Impactful leaders don’t have to be extroverts
AWWA Articles

Impactful leaders don’t have to be extroverts

This article summarizes a column by Sarah Stone published in the AWWA Rocky Mountain Section’s November-December 2023 newsletter. Stone is deputy director of business solutions for Englewood Utilities in Colorado. 

In a world where leadership is often associated with extroversion, I find myself challenging the notion that only outgoing individuals can be great leaders. I believe that introverts like me – whom I like to call “quiet leaders” -- bring a unique and valued perspective to the table that encourages balance and understanding.

Career Zone bannerQuiet leaders thrive on introspection and contemplation. By allowing others to speak and express themselves, we foster an inclusive and collaborative environment to ensure all voices are heard and decision-making is well informed and deliberate.

Following are suggestions to help quiet leaders build on their leadership abilities.

  • Embrace your introversion. Recognize the strengths that come with it, such as deep listening and thoughtful decision-making. Don’t be afraid to ask for more information, data or time for consideration and analysis.
  • Cultivate active listening. Practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, asking open-ended questions and summarizing what you have heard to ensure understanding.
  • Develop your communication style. Focus on expressing your thoughts clearly and concisely, whether spoken or written. Choose your words carefully and deliver your message with impact. 
  • Sarah StoneEncourage collaboration and inclusivity. Actively seek input and consider scheduling regular brainstorming or feedback sessions to foster diverse perspectives and innovation.
  • Make time to recharge. Set boundaries and prioritize self-care to manage your energy and lead effectively. Identify activities that help you relax and rejuvenate, such as taking walks, practicing mindfulness or enjoying hobbies. 
  • Connect individually with team members. Conversing one-on-one and showing genuine interest in your co-workers, along with providing them support when needed, will help foster relationships built on trust and loyalty.
  • Seek growth opportunities. Challenge yourself to get outside of your comfort zone by developing your public speaking skills, presentation techniques or other leadership capabilities.

Being a quiet leader is not a limitation. Embrace your introversion, leverage your strengths and lead with authenticity to make a positive impact on your team and organization.