I’m in the process of experimenting with how malleable my personality is (how much extroversion my nervous system can accommodate), so I totally get this.
After a certain amount of experience, you look around and notice that less qualified people are directing things simply because they’re willing to step forward. Yet modeling existing leadership behavior doesn’t feel right to me. So many of the successful leaders I encounter seem to have such different instincts and communication styles, which tricks me into thinking that I must not be cut out for it. I think the trick may be to seek out successful introverted mentors. It’s something I’ve heard echoed by female leaders working in masculine cultures, that they’ve had to seek out female mentors and really find their own management style.
Some of my favorite managers have been thoughtful introverts who have been able to find a place within a more aggressive culture by virtue of their intellect and trustworthiness. They stay calm and focused and simply persist with logical reasoning in the face of the emotional hype pushed by their more charismatic counterparts. Slowing things down seems to be a good technique.
I really appreciated “Creativity Inc.” for this reason. The author was an academic who decided to create the culture he was looking for b/c no one else was providing it and became an accidental but very successful leader along the way. He also talks a bit about what it was like to work with Steve Jobs; what a challenge! I’d take an introverted leader over him any day.