College is the extrovert’s paradise. From group projects to Greek Life to parties, stimulation is everywhere and it comes in large doses.
College is also the place where many students find their leadership roles. It’s where they join organization, take executive board positions, network and build up their resume so that they are prepared to jump into an entry-level job upon graduation.
For some students, both situations come easily. For introverts like me, it’s hard to thrive in just one of them.
I like time alone and I value listening to other people’s ideas before letting my own be heard. From high school newspaper editor-in-chief to college tour guide, I’ve struggled to land leadership roles because of my quiet nature. Because of this, I am often second guessing whether or not I am leader material.
Susan Cain, an author and a co-founder of Quiet Revolution, defines introversion and extroversion by the amounts of stimulus a person can handle. Extroverts flourish in environments with greater stimulus while introverts flourish when they are alone.
Cain asserts that today’s society nurtures and values extrovert’s need for stimulation by assigning more group work or creating open-plan offices to increase interaction. Introverts are often passed over for leadership roles, but can make some of the best leaders by using their unique characteristics to their advantage.
According to an article by Forbes, introverts like to think on their own before voicing their thoughts. This way, they tend to be more careful and concise with their words. Introverts also tend to like writing more than speaking because they can more clearly express their thoughts that way.
Cain sees that introverts like to go more in depth on subjects they are passionate about. Through their commitment to these passions, introverts can make strong leaders but can be passed over because they don’t fit the extroverted values.
Needless to say, no one is entirely an introvert and no one is entirely an extrovert. Everyone falls on the scale somewhere between the two. Some of the greatest world leaders, such as Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks and Bill Gates, are described as soft-spoken or timid introverts in an article by Inc.
The truth is, introverts can be leaders, and are leaders. It might take some extra effort for them to get noticed, but they have a leadership style that is desperately needed because it’s not seen to often.
To all the introverts out there undoubtedly reading this from a cozy spot on your bed, don’t be afraid to step up because you’re a leader too.