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  • Meredith Parfet

Inner World v. Outer World: The Introverted Leader in a Crisis



If you are an introvert, you probably already know the things the popular leadership books say about you. According to popular culture, you have patience and self-discipline. You bring calm and focused energy to the room. You excel at planning and preparation. Maybe this is true of you, maybe it’s not—but an immediate crisis is not a time to go on a journey of self-exploration or self-affirmation. The good news is that you don’t need to.


There are parts of crisis that are particularly hard on introverts. You will need to have uncomfortable conversations. You feel like everyone is staring at you. But getting through your crisis doesn’t mean changing who you are. You have been leading your business successfully for years and this is not the time to change what has worked for you. What you need is advice for managing the pressures you face within your existing skillset.

Communicate however you feel most comfortable. A great email is better than a terrible phone call, or one too long delayed or agonized over.


  • Communicate however you feel most comfortable. A great email is better than a terrible phone call, or one too long delayed or agonized over.

  • When you do talk on the phone, plan and control your conversations.

- Note down your key talking points.

- Make calls when you are at your best (for example after you have had coffee and before you start other work). Save your energy for the most important conversations.

- Make your calls where you feel comfortable. Just because some people can talk and drive at the same time doesn’t mean you have to.

- Don’t feel you have to answer calls if you are not ready. Even if you think its urgent there is no reason you can’t call back in ten minutes when you are ready.

- Don’t be afraid to pause to think about your responses.

- Suggest an in-person meeting if that is more comfortable.

  • Try to distinguish between things you really need to worry about and things you are obsessing over. A crisis will take as much mental energy as you have available. Don’t waste it.

  • Find people to confide in. Crisis is stressful. If you have even one person you can honestly share your fears with it will make a tremendous difference.

  • Take time to be alone. A crisis is a busy time but don’t mistake the quantity of your work for its quality. Take the time you need to recharge.

  • Feel free to hide. If you don’t want to be asked about the crisis, or run into people involved in it, that’s normal. Feel free to get your coffee somewhere else for a few weeks, or shop at a different grocery store.

  • Treat yourself with compassion. You are going to make missteps, say or do the wrong thing. Don’t beat yourself up.



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