An Introvert’s Guide to Getting Ahead

What do Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steven Spielberg and Avon’s chief executive Andrea Jung have in common?   Besides having hugely successful careers and large bank accounts, they all also happen to be self-described introverts.

While strong leaders are often associated with outgoing, dominant personality styles, there are a number of more introverted personality traits, like good listening skills, the ability to thrive in collaborative environments, and openness to new ideas that make excellent leadership qualities.  Here are some additional tips to help introverts play to their strengths in getting ahead at the workplace:

1.     Acknowledge Personal Accomplishments

Think of this as personal public relations.  Sometimes introverts may suffer from “imposter syndrome,” undervaluing accomplishments and thinking that their professional success is more based on luck than actual skill.  It’s important to take credit where credit is due, be confident in one’s contributions to the workplace, and make sure to regularly communicate achievements to key decision-makers.

2.     Find an Office Champion

If self-promotion feels uncomfortable, why not let someone else do the promoting?  Most employees have either a boss or other supervisor whom they interact with regularly and share professional accomplishments with.  Find the right extroverted person at work, and let them champion your accomplishments in meetings and social situations to help gain credibility and visibility among colleagues.

3.     Plan Discussions Ahead of Time

Whether planning for a meeting, or getting read to ask for a raise, being prepared for the moment is very important.  Introverted personalities typically have more difficulty going off-the-cuff, and being unprepared can lead to unnecessary anxiety and difficulty achieving the desired result.

4.     Get Noticed with Simple Cues

When in a large meeting or group setting, remember that body language speaks volumes.  The simple use of hand cues in meetings to acknowledge someone’s point, resting elbows on the arms of the chair instead of at one’s side, making direct and sustained eye contact, and speaking slowly are all simple ways of expressing more authority in workplace and group settings.

5.     Envision High-Level Impact

The fact that many leadership traits are associated with extroverted personality styles should not be a hindrance on the high-level success of an introverted personality.  Introverts actually demonstrate superior performance when leading a team of proactive workers, and are more inclined to internalize and be receptive to others’ ideas, thus improving team performance.

When overcoming social anxiety and working to get ahead in the workplace, sometimes it helps to talk to a counselor.  For free and confidential support, contact your employee assistance program—ACI Specialty Benefits—at (800) 932-0034 or

About ACI Specialty Benefits

ACI Specialty Benefits ranks in the nation’s Top-Ten providers of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), corporate wellness programs, student assistance, corporate concierge, and work/life services to corporations worldwide. ACI partners with clients to Perk Up employee engagement and performance with benefit programs that improve morale, productivity and the bottom-line. With a 95% customer retention rate and over 7 million lives covered. ACI remains a privately-owned specialty benefits corporation, headquartered in San Diego. For more information, visit or call 800.932.0034.
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