It’s a myth that extroverts make better leaders than introverts. Some of the best leaders I know are introverts. But introverted leaders need to take care of themselves differently than extroverted leaders, and if they don’t, their ability to lead will suffer.
I’m an introverted leader, and I know this from experience.
Here are three things I do to take care of myself and make sure I don’t burn out as a leader.
Take alone time before and after large events.
I like being around people, but being alone is how I fuel and refuel, so if I know I’m going to be around a lot of people for an extended period of time, I make sure I prepare beforehand by spending some time alone. I think of it like filling my tank with gas before going on a long road trip. Then, when the event is over I try to spend time alone again, to rest and reflect on everything that happened.
Usually, if I don’t plan this before-and-after time in advance, it won’t happen. So I make sure to block out time on my schedule ahead of time.
Be strategic about your schedule
Carving out alone time is just one way I’m strategic with my schedule. I also try to keep a few nights open each week to just spend time at home, with my family, and make sure I have at least one day each weekend where I’m not meeting with people. It isn’t always easy to do this since, as a leader, there are always demands on my time. But I make do by communicating clear boundaries with friends and coworkers, keeping business meetings short and productive and consolidating hang-outs when necessary.
When it feels like I’m letting people down by taking time alone, I remind myself that taking care of myself is the nicest thing I can do for others.
Create a team
Honestly, there is no way I could do what I do if it weren’t for the team that surrounds me. The people who work with me compliment my strengths and make up for my weaknesses. I’ve been very intentional to surround myself with great people, but I’ve also been careful to develop the relationships in such a way that roles are clear, each person knows what he or she is responsible to do, and feels comfortable with his/her responsibilities.
I believe we’re built to work on teams, and that if we embrace a “team” model and work ethic, we’ll see the best of ourselves come through.