An introvert is a label given to people who are normally shy, quiet and to themselves. They are by no means unmotivated or lazy. Instead, they are people who are simply “less vocal” about their ideas.
Let me begin by telling you that EVERYONE is different. We all have our own personality, skills and strengths. And that’s a good thing. It makes the world go round and keeps things interesting.
When you study successful military leaders, you will find people who are introverted as well as extroverted. You don’t have to have to be an extrovert to succeed in the military. Sure, it can be seen as an advantage to be outgoing, friendly, enthusiastic and energetic, but it’s not a requirement for success.
That being said, even if you are an introvert, you will be put in positions where you HAVE to step out of your comfort zone and do things you aren’t necessarily comfortable with.
Listed below, you will find my top 7 tips for introvert Army and Military leaders. These are just some simple things you can do to have a successful career.
# 1 Utilize One on One Conversations When Possible
As a military leader, there will be times when you have to address a group of people. It’s inevitable. When that happens, you must deal with it. However, in most cases you can use one-on-one communication techniques. If you are naturally introverted, I would just encourage you to do this more often. Relay your messages and instructions via one-on-one, rather than in a group setting.
# 2 Let Your Boss Know that You are Naturally Introverted
Let your boss know that you are naturally introverted and quiet, but that you take pride in your job and like what you do. Make sure they know that your “quietness” doesn’t mean that you don’t care. It’s very easy for an extrovert to think that an introvert is lazy, so make sure you have this talk with them.
# 3 Keep a Close Eye On Your Body Language
When you communicate with others, you use verbal and non-verbal communication. Examples of non-verbal communication would be facial expressions and body language. Make sure that your body language doesn’t make others feel uncomfortable. You don’t want people to take you wrong and think that you aren’t confident or don’t care.
# 4 Utilize Other Forms of Communication
Utilize email and written communication whenever possible. These are a very effective way to communicate.
# 5 Look for Jobs That Match Your Personality
If you are an introvert, it might be in your best interest to look for staff or support jobs where you can work behind the scenes. These jobs let you use your personality to your advantage.
# 6 Take Classes on Public Speaking
There are lots of classes and courses on public speaking such as Toastmasters and the Dale Carnegie Course. These classes will build your confidence and make it easier for you to speak in a group setting. Toastmasters helped me immensely.
# 7 Surround Yourself with Extroverts
If possible, choose a NCO or Officer counterpart with a different personality type. That way you two can leverage each other’s strengths. You can have them do more of the public speaking and talking in groups.
In summary, these are my top 7 tips for Army and military leaders who are naturally introverts. The bottom line is that you can have a very successful military career, whether you are and introvert or extrovert. That being said, there will still be many times where you have to step out of your comfort zone and do things you wouldn’t normally do, such as public speaking, working in groups, or being overly enthusiastic. When these situations arise, you have to give it your best shot, even if you are scared or uncomfortable.
If you are an introvert and are/were serving in the military, I would love to hear from you. Please share some of your best tips by leaving a comment below. Let us know what you did to be successful in the military.