8 Common Myths About Introverted Leaders

The misunderstandings people have about introverts are astounding and sometimes even hurtful. Here are a few that have been cast my way and toward fellow introverts:

1. We are all the same.

While all introverts are reserved, constantly quiet and unsocial, introverts are nevertheless a diverse group, with varying degrees of introversion. For example, if you give me the authority, I will lead the meeting. No problem. But this would never be comfortable for some introverts.

2. We are shy.

This may be your word, but it is not mine. I prefer purposeful. Others may call it something else. I talk when there is a purpose. I am not afraid to do so. Three-year-olds are shy when they hide behind their daddy. That is not me.

3. We need more courage.

Why I oughta … (You will get this sarcasm only if you are a Three Stooges fan.) Seriously, I’m not chicken when I choose not to speak. I am being comfortable with who I am.

4. We have nothing to say.

Actually I have lots to say. After all, I blog almost daily. I did a daily devotional for more than a dozen years, and I had a radio program for 17 years. Have you ever seen how often I update Twitter and Facebook? I have plenty to say. Sometimes I do and sometimes I do not express it, but often how I choose to communicate will be different from how others choose to communicate.

5. We are not as intelligent, because we do not speak as much.

Yeah, in a lot of ways I am ignorant. It was not until I was about 50 years old that I began to understand all I do not know. I am not trying to be funny, but in some ways I am smarter than the guy who never quits talking. (You know the one.) I am less likely to say the thing I wish I had not said because I did not think before I talked. It happens with me, too, but not as often as it might for some.

6. We are arrogant, aloof or unfriendly.

I am a lot of negative things, but those are not really the main three. People who know me tend to call me humble, though I am not necessarily humble. I have just been humbled by life. And so I am not looking down on anyone. I sometimes, though, have to go back and apologize once I hear that someone thinks I avoided them. This happens especially with extremely extroverted people.

Honestly, I love everyone. Or at least my biblical commitment and personal goal is to do so. Whether or not I talk to you will not be a good determinant of whether or not I like you. It might even mean I respect you enough to listen more than speak.

7. We need you to talk for us.

Um, actually we would rather you not. This said, I sometimes let my wife talk for me. She is good at it, too. But if I have an opinion I think needs sharing, I can speak for myself. Or I can regret later that I did not. But either way, please do not try to be my voice.

8. We need to change, mature or grow as a person.

I have heard this so many times, mostly about other leaders someone is trying to coach and asking for my advice about. Wrong. Introversion is not a maturity problem. They may need to mature in how they respond as a leader, but they do not need to mature in personality.

The truth is, I am quieter than some leaders you know—or your perception of a leader—but my personality has not changed a ton in all the years I have been leading. There are lots of things wrong with me. Introversion is not one of them.

Taken from The Mythical Leader: The Seven Myths of Leadership by Ron Edmondson. Copyright © 2017 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.

Order this book on Amazon.com »

Ron Edmondson is pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, veteran church planter and author of several books. For more: RonEdmondson.com