4 strategies for a quiet leader

written by Erica Quam

One of the questions I often get at my coaching summits is: can I be a successful coach and still be an introvert? 

My answer? Absolutely. 

I really believe the more authentic you can be the less energy it will take. Being a coach is a big job already! Trying to be someone you're not will leave you overwhelmed and exhausted. 

Now, there are times when all coaches have to step out of their comfort zone and adapt their behavior for success. However, if you're always striving to please other people, be someone else, or simply trying to fit a mold of who you think you should be...you're gonna burn out.

Here are four strategies to honor your introvert and be highly successful:

1. INTENTION

If you've ever read my articles before, you know I'm a big believer in setting intentions. As a coach, you're going to be stepping up and putting your voice out there a lot more - coaching your athletes, talking to parents, working with your staff, etc. Set an intention ahead of time and choose who you want to be in these moments. It can be as simple as choosing one word that you'll embody: bold, confident, strong, authentic, or just be myself.

The opposite of setting an intention is reacting. When you hold onto doubts, fears, and excuses. You go into situations with that voice in your head saying, "I'm just not good at this" or "this is way too hard". 

When you set an intention, you're enrolled. You're telling the universe, I'm going for it! I'm all in!

Intention changes everything!

2. PREPARATION

Preparation will allow yourself to nurture your nature. Preparation is crucial for everyone...especially for introverts. Here's why: coaching is all about relationships and connecting with people. This can take a lot of energy for introverts. 

Plan ahead and have a few questions in mind to ask other people. This will help you get other person talking. It'll take the pressure off of you and put the emphasis on them. (And people love to talk about themselves!) You can own the conversation and connect with people at a deeper level.

So, before you go on the road to recruit, out to a fundraising event, or anywhere you have to mingle and network...prepare three key questions that you can ask someone. Make these questions meaningful for you - so you can be engaged as an active listener. Then, it's a win-win situation for you!

3. EXPANSION

We can have a lot of resistance surrounding the stories we've told ourselves for a long time. How are you going to expand out of your comfort zone to learn and grow? Expansion can be as simple as:

  • going first in a group - when you usually go last
  • saying something that's on your mind - rather than waiting to see if anyone else will bring it up
  • doing a little more talking - instead of more listening

It's great to stretch beyond our norms. Get out of our default-mode. That's where the transformation takes place!

4. PERMISSION

Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured...Spend your free the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.
— Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Just as there are times to expand, there are other times where you will need to give yourself full permission to be an introvert. Educate others on what you need. Set boundaries...and don't apologize. If you need 30 minutes in your office by yourself with your lights off...make that need known to others. 

You'll have to get out of the spotlight and be by yourself to be able to recharge. Don't worry about saying no to things.

Extroverts get refreshed by being around people. Introverts need more downtime. It's not that introverts don't enjoy being with other people...it's just that they replenish their energy by being by themselves.  

I believe that introverts can absolutely be successful coaches! In fact, I would encourage all coaches to switch roles every once in a while to experience the benefits of "the other side". Just be sure to play to your strengths a majority of the time.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What have you found that you need to be at your best? Share your insight in the comments below.