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Personal Space

Introverted leaders tend to have a need for personal space - both literally and figuratively, where they can be alone with their "inner world".


  • introverted leaders generally have a strong need for personal space which is often not recognised or understood in working life

  • this need for external space reflects a different mode of thinking and reflection and a need to have internal space for one’s thoughts

  • open plan offices and hot-desking without any privacy or ‘quiet time’ can be particularly challenging

  • interruptions from colleagues, when working, can be particularly distracting and stressful

  • some introverted leaders have a strong urge to walk away from conflict and retreat into a more private space.

What introverted leaders said about the challenges of needing Personal Space:


  • “I find it hard to find time to think at work”

  • “People say to me “You door is always open and you’re always pleased to see us”. Well the truth is, no I am not. That is what you get taught that good managers do, so I do it, but really I don’t want to be interrupted.”

  • “The offices at work are all open-plan with no private space at all - I find it difficult to concentrate on my work, particularly where complex thinking is involved. I know that the offices are designed to facilitate interaction between staff but I find the constant presence of others both draining and distracting. My train of thought gets disrupted so many times that I am far less productive than I might otherwise be.”

  • “One of the issues for me is that when I become irritated I need to walk away and find space.”

Positive Approaches to creating Personal Space:

  • being open with colleagues about your need, at times, for privacy and solitude

  • identifying somewhere appropriate where you can create some personal space when you need to.

  • booking meeting rooms for quiet work.

  • making time to ‘go off’ somewhere else to think in isolation, even if only for a short while.

  • recovering from stressful situations by creating a sort of retreat - but resisting the urge to make a dash for it mid-confrontation

  • recognising team members’ needs for occasional solitude and enabling them to have it too

  • using the space available to you, effectively, to create time to think and reflect

  • ensuring that you have a good means of retreat in your home environment

  • keeping weekends and evenings free from work

  • working from home when possible.

What introverted leaders said about creating Personal Space:

  • “I try very hard to find space. It is all about time management and diary management. When I was Head [of a school] I worked on two sites. In one I had a room beyond the library, nobody ever went to find me there so I could withdraw.”

  • “Because I am an introvert I am good at giving people space when they need it because I know I like it.”

  • “Being open with colleagues so they understand that I need space on my own to reflect and recharge batteries.”

  • “I am highly organised, which means I can plan when I need to work with others and when I can work from home/the train.”

  • “I need to build in reflection time and private space, especially during a busy project. I try to ensure a mix of work involving quiet analysis and report writing alongside large meetings and customer-facing work. I keep weekends free from work to allow for recovery time and reflection. I try to be more assertive on the need to have a lunch break and a cut off at a reasonable time in the evening on busy projects.”

  • “I think my introversion makes me better at reflection, analysis and contemplation. It means I'm less wrapped up in the superficial social/political side of work. It drives me to create personal space to see the bigger picture and to think through strategies.”

  • “I like to work quietly at evenings and weekends - where I do my thinking.

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