Can you be quiet and still create and lead a thriving business?

The simple answer… of course you can!

(Side note: I use the words quiet & introvert interchangeably but I’m referring to introverts who are also shy/quiet – not all introverts are!)

The business training arena is saturated with ‘gurus’ telling entrepreneurs how to show up to create successful businesses and most of what they’re teaching is a one size fits all slice of pomp and circumstance, which for the one third to one half of the population who are introverted, just simply isn’t going to cut it – in fact, for many, it could be business suicide.

You’d never expect Pavarotti (or some other opera singer who is still alive!) to sing like Beyonce or vice versa because neither of them could do it and neither would want to, I’d expect. Both are extremely talented (depending on your music preference of course!) but only when they show up using their own unique strengths and styles. Otherwise it would be..hmmm.. awkward!

Likewise, there is a place for both introverts and extroverts when it comes to leading businesses. Take the likes of Oprah, JK Rowling, and Rosa Parks, all introverts and all leaders who inspire(d) change, young minds and other women. All show(ed) courage, tenacity, a desire to create change, passion, persistence and an ability to step outside their comfort zone when needed. All speak/spoke out about causes that they are/were passionate about to create change in the world. They took centre stage even if it felt uncomfortable. Aren’t these some of the very qualities we list when we think of what makes a great leader or entrepreneur? They were quiet, shy, introverted but that didn’t mean that they hid away in corners afraid to speak. That’s good news if you’re an introvert because hopefully you now realise that you can be quiet and make a difference in the world.

Being quiet and introverted is all about being able to manage your energy in a way that gets the job done, incubates creativity and inspires others. Think of introverts a little like making a trifle. Its great fun mixing the jelly and water and adding all the ingredients but if you don’t let it sit afterwards, your trifle isn’t going to be what it had the potential to be. Likewise, introverts and quiet women are more than capable of leading businesses, they just need to ‘sit’ for a while after to recharge their batteries. If, as an introvert you are leading or hope to lead a business, want to consistently network, to show up energetically online, to engage in public speaking, be the face of your business or cause… then you also have to make time to ‘sit’ – have quiet time, solitude, time to recharge your batteries. Constantly ‘doing’ isn’t productive for anyone, but as an introvert, that ‘sitting’ time is essential for helping you stay on the top of your game when it is time to ‘do’.

Steve Wozniak (arguably one of the worlds most successful introverts) said: ‘I don’t think anything truly revolutionary has ever been invented by committee’. It is when they are recharging in quiet time that introverts and quiet people have their best ideas.

So, how do you lead as an introvert? Here are just 5 tips to get you on your way:

Know your why! I know you’ll have heard this again and again but it’s so important for shy and quiet introverts who want to lead great businesses, to be perfectly in tune with their ‘why’. Introversion is not a one size fits all deal, it exists on a scale meaning that introverts can be more extraverted or more introverted in different situations. When quiet introverts are doing work that is completely in alignment with their purpose and values, they are much more likely to behave as we expect leaders to – Rosa Parks is a case in point here.

Work with people who supplement you! As a life long introvert myself, I have been known to take offence when people seem surprised that I love being with people. Believe it or not, being an introvert does not mean that we prefer to hide away in a cupboard. I’d imagine that as an introvert, you also enjoy other people’s company, especially in a work environment where you can share ideas and concepts. When it comes to setting yourself up as a quiet leader though, be sure to surround yourself with people who supplement your style of showing up with different styles. Get comfortable with admitting your weaknesses because you will need to work with people, either as part of your team, or freelancers, who can compensate for them. Noah had to get 2 of every animal on the ark because it takes all kinds to make a world. You can’t be everything.

Choose a business model that fits with your need for quiet and rest. Being introverted is not some hard mould that you fit into, some introverts hate being in large groups doing things like speaking at events, leading conferences and inspiring rooms full of people but thrive in one to one structures. And some, myself included, actually prefer putting our energy into the big group stuff. It’s important to make sure that any business model is in alignment with your preferences. If you’re an introvert who prefers one to one working, you’ll need to have a pricing structure that allows you to work with a small number of people while still getting your energy boosts in between. If you’re the type of introvert who thrives in working with lots of people e.g. large groups, then consider a one to many business model. Memberships are also great models for quiet introverts for whom building lasting relationships is important. Memberships can be intimate and small if priced correctly or larger, so long as you are delivering on your purpose. However, if you’re the type of quiet introvert that would rather not deal directly with people at all but have a deep desire to help people, then online self-study courses, online retail and other non client facing business models will be much more effective.

Take it step by step. If you’re petrified of showing up online, on stage, in media, at networking events etc chances are that, no matter how much you know why you should show up in these ways, you won’t wake up and suddenly find that you’re no longer introverted and quiet and instead are shouting from the rooftops to anyone who will listen. Instead, you will need to discover what things in your environment help or hinder you in showing up in these ways. What beliefs, habits, skills and values do you have that help or hinder you in showing up how you want to? Once you know what changes you need to make in your environment and what new habits, beliefs and skills you need to have in place, you can begin implementing those changes, one at a time.

Get accountability. This one is pretty simple really. There’s no greater motivation for doing something than knowing that someone is going to ask you if you’ve done it. Choose an accountability partner, this can be a friend, a colleague, a coach etc and ask them to keep you accountable for implementing the changes you identified above.

If you’re struggling to move forward in your business why not apply to become one of a limited number of 1-2-1 clients I work with each year on my Confidence and Clarity Catalyst. You can click here to learn more.

 

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