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Reflecting & Synthesising

Introverted leaders are often able to synthesise many ideas and draw out the key points from a discussion. They develop their ideas by reflecting on them; many of them learn best by reflection and they need time to do this. This means colleagues may not experience an immediate response; when they do, they may not necessarily follow the chain of reasoning.


  • processing complex thoughts and communicating only the conclusion can confuse those who do not follow the reasoning

  • while introverts are reflecting, they can appear to be doing nothing - this can create an impression of disengagement

  • even though a longer period of reflection can result in a better response, sometimes a quick response is felt to be needed

What introverted leaders said about the challenges of needing to Reflect and Synthesise:


  • “I tend to process in my head and will come out with my conclusion from a great chain of thought - but no one is with me. I need to consciously process with the group to get the answer I had already thought of. A consequence of not doing that is I can appear arrogant or hack people off or be blind to other people’s views.”

  • “I am quite a creative thinker, however I tend to do the thinking silently and when I present an idea it quite often shocks people who struggle to see how I've reached a certain conclusion.”

  • “Sometimes my reasoning is opaque even to me. This has also caused me problems in a competency based interview. I was asked "why did you do x or y?". I had to make something up because my honest response was "it just seemed like the obvious thing to do at the time".”

  • “I think it is harder for introverts to stand up to someone, especially if they are being given unreasonable tasks. We find it harder to speak up in the moment and don’t think so well under pressure.”

Positive Approaches to Reflecting and Synthesising:

The ability to reflect and synthesise can be one of introverted leaders’ great strengths which can be demonstrated by:

  • synthesising the outcomes of complex discussions at the end of meetings

  • ensuring that decisions are based on sufficient evidence

  • allowing oneself and others the time and space to think, by tolerating silences

  • building in time for reflection

  • valuing the quality of a well-considered response

What introverted leaders said about positive approaches to reflecting and synthesising:

  • “I am currently a member of an executive team where most are extroverts. I am often the last person to speak but I round up the conversation, I get the whole picture, because I have been reflecting while they are talking.”

  • “My introversion makes me a better leader because I take time to think about things. People realise that they get a better opinion when they give me time to consider and think and that the best answer is the one that I give twenty four hours later.”

  • “I’ve just been running a learning set. The feedback was “We’ve never been in a learning set where we’ve had so much time to think.””

  • “The ability to listen and to tolerate silence are useful in coaching, either formally or in one-to-ones with subordinates or colleagues - they are more likely to express themselves if given space.”

  • “Making time to think, analyse, and write was particularly effective in my role in the civil service, where papers, submissions to Ministers and emails to advance or critique ideas were very much the culture.”

  • “Once I understood my introverted preference and had also experienced some success in my roles, I learnt to value my thoughtfulness and see this as my unique contribution to helping people solve dilemmas and problems. I felt less urgency to 'come up with an answer' and more confidence to observe and think before speaking.”

  • “Saying 'can I think about that for a minute?' , 'can I come back to you on that one?', 'can we think about that?', or 'can you ask me again next week?' as methods of covering periods of silence whilst I consider the best answer.”

  • “I have gradually developed the confidence to go back when I have had some space to think about it and I have a better conversation the second time round.”

  • “Because my natural reaction is to take in information, process and analyse, then respond, I have been able to process criticism and negative feedback from customers or stakeholders rather than "dumping" straight on to my staff.”

  • “I have a number of personal strategies to support me. These include: Reflection time: I use my forty minutes in the car on my way to work to do mental 'daily pages' to prepare for what I want from the day. I use the journey home to learn lessons and wind down. I have learned not to listen to the radio as it distracts me too much.”

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