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One-to-one Relationships

Relationships are very important to introverted leaders. They tend to focus on a small number of deep relationships rather than many superficial ones. As leaders they may build individual relationships with members of their team and foster relational commitment

The Benefits of One-to-one Relationships

Introverted leaders explained that one-to-one relationships are an important aspect of their leadership style:

  • in groups or teams which are highly extroverted, it can be difficult to get your voice heard or to influence people. Some introverted leaders work around this by interacting with individual members of the group - perhaps starting with the more introverted members to build confidence and a sense of purpose

  • taking time to build one-to-one relationships with key colleagues and other leaders can compensate for a comparative lack of visibility in the organisation - it can be a case of quality rather than quantity

  • building a series of close working relationships can create a bank of people to call on in future roles and tasks

  • creating close working relationships can build loyalty and reduce staff turnover.

Building Working Relationships


Techniques to build working relationships include:

  • talking through your thought processes to build understanding and a shared sense of ownership of solutions rather than simply imposing your own. Introverted leaders can appear to have jumped to conclusions when really they have been working through complicated thought processes in their own heads

  • engaging with colleagues to find a common solution rather than trying to impose your own

  • taking time to listen and reflect back to individuals, perhaps using coaching skills. Asking questions rather than offering solutions. Using emotional intelligence and trying to understand what drives other people

  • in teams, creating specific ‘air-time’ for people to contribute their views

  • inviting people to come to you for advice, support and assistance

  • focusing on team members and allowing them to be in the limelight encourages them to take responsibility and credit for their work

  • being caring and supportive in the workplace but recognising that this does not need to extend into a social role

  • consciously tuning in to social chit chat for short bursts, to make an occasional contribution

  • putting extra effort into those relationships that you perceive to be important

  • building relationships with extroverts so that their skills complement yours in a range of situations

  • planning to travel together to meetings or conferences can be a good way to develop relationships with colleagues on a more informal basis.

What introverted leaders said about developing one-to-one relationships:

  • “I find that if I take the time to build good one-to-one relationships - particularly if I have the opportunity for a longer one-to-one chat, perhaps on a train - or over a meal, then work flows much better than if I try to get everything done in work. But I have to be aware and initiate this myself with people - and ensure that I am not invading their own personal space/time!”

  • “Working with individuals on a one-to-one (and one-by-one!) basis, rather than trying to interact with a group as a whole.”

  • “I was coaching an introvert who struggled to get himself heard, he was in a team where [the others] all talk over each other, so I helped him develop strategies that depended on one-to-one relationships. Operating in the big group didn’t work for him so I had to help him find another way of having a voice.”

  • “My introversion has had a positive impact on my relationships with others on a one-to-one basis. I give a lot to individuals who I am working with - and some of my most rewarding times in my career have been when I've been working with one other person, whether that's a subordinate or a manager.”

  • “I have developed deep long term work relationships/friendships with people at all levels based on mutual respect. This has often stood me in good stead when I have come to a new project or new role and found I am working with someone who remembers me from "way back"... Because I don't feel the need to be centre stage I am happy to give colleagues and/or subordinates the limelight and encourage them to take responsibility and credit for their work. This accelerates their development path. I have had loyal staff with low turnover. This is not purely down to introversion but my introversion contributes as above.”

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