The Introverted Project Manager

10/12/2016 08:59 pm ET Updated Oct 12, 2016

Though project managers have many different personality types, many often think of project managers as extroverts who love getting out among teams and chatting with everyone. This is not always the case, though. There are of course project managers with introvert characteristics who love the profession and are great leaders.

But because project management relies heavily on communication and collaboration with others, much of the work can be exhausting for the introvert.

If you consider yourself an introvert and have avoided project management as a career choice even though it’s appealing to you, I’ve got great news: you can still be a great project manager while working with your needs as an introvert .

If you consider yourself to be a project manager with introvert characteristics, read on for helpful strategies.

Project Management Requires Lots of Interaction with Others

Much of project management involves driving communication of various types:

  • pulling together information for the project plan
  • communicating status
  • facilitating project meetings
  • communicating with team members throughout the project, not only during planning but while executing and controlling the project as well

So much interaction with people. It can be exhausting.

Or even worse, it can anxiety-provoking. To better understand the introverted project manager – even if this is you – I’ve listed some traits below.

Traits of Introverts

I referred to Susan Cain’s assessment survey on her website, Quiet Revolution. Here I learned that introverts experience the following:

  • feel drained after time in large crowds
  • work best in quiet environments
  • are cautious or patient decision makers
  • can feel overwhelmed with too much external stimulation

Additionally, Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D., shares the following about introverts in her Psychology Today article “Nine Signs You’re Really an Introvert“:

  • “You enjoy having time to yourself.”
  • “Your best thinking occurs when you’re by yourself.”
  • “You lead best when others are self-starters.”
  • “You prefer not to engage with people who seem angry or upset.”

TIPS ON HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR INTROVERT CHARACTERISTICS

Though I identify more as an ambivert, I can relate to many of the introvert characteristics. I reached out to other project managers who identify as introverts to find how they best operate. They shared approaches on how they work best and honor their needs as introverts.

  • Find ways to process information in peace.
  • Hold one-on-one meetings when possible.
  • Determine whether email or phone communication fits your needs better, and utilize that format when possible.
  • Keep meetings short if you can.
  • Schedule more demanding conversations or meetings in the morning.
  • Book quiet time to decompress.
  • Break down big meetings to smaller groups or one-on-ones.
  • Be more task-based or data-based in managing resources and reports. Focusing on action plans and data help to keep focus.
  • Schedule time to do non-people management work to allow a chance to recharge.

Introverts often have great listening skills, deep focus, and attention to detail. Focus on these strengths that are highly valuable in project management (and many other careers). By focusing on your strengths, and learning to work in ways that fit your style, you’ll be a valuable asset to your team.

Five inspirational quotes for introverts

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m quiet. I know more than I say, think more than I speak and observe more than you know.” ~ Michaela Chung

“Quiet people have the loudest minds.” Stephen Hawking

“Originality thrives in seclusion free of outside influences beating upon us to cripple the creative mind. Be alone—that is the secret of invention: be alone, that is when ideas are born.”~ Nikola Tesla

“There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” ~Susan Cain

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This post originally posted at ProjectBliss.net

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