EP 33: Confidence and The Inner Leadership Potential of Introverts with Terrance Lee

Many people may think that most of the population are extroverts, but actually, 25% to 40% of the population are introverts. As an introvert yourself, have you ever been overlooked for a leadership role? Introverts can make great leaders and may present qualities that extroverts just don’t have. Just because an extrovert can be the first to speak in an important meeting or any other work-related setting, doesn’t mean that introverts don’t have something important to add to the conversation. If you are an introverted business owner and you haven’t harnessed your leadership skills from within yet, it’s time to take back your confidence and start embracing the leader that you truly are regardless of if you are a solopreneur or have a team of your own.

Our guest on the podcast today is Leadership Coach, Terrance Lee. He is also known as The Introvert Leader and had always avoided taking on leadership roles in his life.  At the age of 13, an experience occurred which caused him to doubt his ability to speak in front of people, and caused him to shy away from the spotlight. This worked for Terrance until he eventually had to learn leadership skills by necessity at his first engineering job out of college. When he had been working in his first role for a short time, his mentor put in his two-week notice. Terrance then found out that he had to take his place presenting to a group of experienced engineers and pilots for a highly technical review.  Despite feeling extremely nervous, the meeting that Terrance led went well; which gave him a giant confidence boost.  

Since then, Terrance has taken on many leadership and management roles as an introvert at several Fortune 500 companies in the defense industry, with proven results.  He utilizes his platform to empower introverts to tap into their own inner leadership potential and is never shy about sharing the tips that he has learned throughout his journey. 

In this episode, Terrance and I dive into:

  • His journey from a seventh-grade experience that rocked his confidence to becoming the introverted leader he is today
  • Why introverts make great leaders 
  • Introverts being overlooked for leadership roles
  • Overcoming hurdles as an introverted business owner
  • …and much more

How Seventh Grade Became a Turning Point for One Introvert

Starting from the beginning for Terrance, he grew up moving around a lot. As a young kid, he considered himself outgoing, would be the first person to raise his hand in class, and had many friends. Then, in seventh grade, he had an experience that was a turning point in his life. It impacted his confidence and brought on feelings of self-doubt. All through high school and college when he would meet other people and made friends, they would describe Terrance as quiet, laid back, and reserved. After college, he started his engineering career and this put him in situations where he had to speak in front of a group of what he called, very smart people, and this intimidated him. Thoughts of self-doubt crept up for him and he wasn’t sure he could do it. With practice and repetition, he was able to present the information very well. Fast forward to now, he is in some different leadership roles as a defense contractor, where he manages a large team of engineers. With the help of his introversion, he is able to use it to his benefit and power. With his platform, The Introverted Leader, he is able to help empower those with introverted personalities to realize that they actually do have with it takes to lead, win, and be successful.

What Makes Introverts Really Great Leaders and Why Are They Overlooked?

We live in a more extroverted world and when it comes to leadership, many of those same extroverts are given leadership roles over introverted people. There are many skills that make introverts great leaders and for good reason. For Terrance, he says that introverts are really great at thinking deeply. Of course, there are no two people who are just alike necessarily, but in general, a lot of times introverts like to think through things, where someone that’s more extroverted may just say the first thing that comes to their mind. There will be conversations where people are going back and forth, and people might assume that any introvert also in the room is just quiet, but they are actually thinking about what’s being said, and observing things that other people are missing. They’re noticing things that everyone else on the team just doesn’t get. Terrance has actually learned to use this as a strength. There are a lot of other introverted leaders that do the same thing. When you’re observant and you’re thinking deeply, there are certain things that you notice that everyone else just doesn’t catch. For Terrance, he thinks that is so key in leadership because when you are on these teams and there are tight deadlines or there are different things going on, being able to pick up on things that other people miss is an important skill.

Why then do introverts get overlooked for these leadership opportunities? Many people assume that it’s just because introverts are so quiet, but it’s more of a misunderstanding. People just don’t understand the introverted mind. A scenario that Terrance likes to use in this instance is being in a meeting with a group of people. If there are ten people in that room, and two of those people aren’t saying much, then they will be looked at as quiet, they have nothing to say or anything to add. The other eight people are talking back and forth with little to no pauses and that may be the perception they have about the other two people. It might actually be that is not the case. These introverts might have a lot to add. They may actually have the most important thing in the room to say, but if they’re not given the opportunity to speak, or if they’re sitting there trying to figure out how to get their words into the conversation, but there’s this feverish conversation going on, it becomes hard for them to jump in and add that value. That’s the reason that lots of introverts get overlooked for these opportunities. If someone is not making the proper decisions, and if they don’t have certain qualities of leadership, whether they are an extrovert or an introvert, they are not a good leader. It takes a lot more than just talking a lot to be a good leader.

Being Pressured to Act More Extroverted as an Introvert

Being confident is a big part of accepting your strengths as an introvert, who you are, how you learn, and how you do things. Having a lack of confidence can bring you as an introvert to feel pressured to act more extroverted, whether that be online or in any circumstance with your business. There are three important tips that Terrance has for being confident and accepting who you are. The first one is to embrace your introversion. Stop trying so hard to be anyone else. Do not worry about what others are thinking of you. Do not assume that because you are an introvert, you can’t be successful. Lean into who you are, and look in the mirror and say, yeah, I’m a little more introverted than other people and know that it is okay. The second thing to realize is there are a lot more introverts in the world than people think. People assume the world is just 90% extroverted or something, but there is a significant number of introverts in this world, so when you realize that you’re not alone, you can lean into who you are, and be proud of who you are, that makes such a huge deal with confidence because then now you are not walking around thinking something’s wrong with you. You now feel empowered. The last thing is to step outside your comfort zone and not hold back because of fear, but still accepting who you are as a person and your strengths. A lot of people when they do hear outside of their comfort zone, they’re thinking, oh I have to force myself to do this and I have to push myself to be somebody that I’m not, but that is definitely not what it means. It’s just pushing yourself through fear if you’re struggling with fear of failure or you have some kind of fear, push yourself to achieve those goals.

Hurdles to Overcome as an Introverted Business Owner

With the platform Terrance has, The Introvert Leader, it’s been interesting for him in terms of hurdles as an introvert to overcome, especially as a business owner, too. He never would have thought that he would be on video, doing reels and doing all of the things with his platform. One thing he will say is that one mistake he sees is when introverts try to force things. What he means by that is it can become very daunting and it can be a lot to feel like you need to be everywhere at once. If that’s not something that a business owner wants to do, then that’s okay. It’s something that people should not beat themselves up over. Terrance has found that through social media, there are a number of ways that introverts can be successful and get themselves out, their brand out, and connect with other people. It may just be sharing a post with a very deep caption about your journey and what you’re going through. 

Another thing that he found is that when you’re transparent with people, they really connect with that. As introvert entrepreneurs, talking about your story, talking about your journey, talking about your brand, and why you created the brand, things like that really connect with people. Through that, they begin to know you more, so it’s not that you necessarily have to do a bunch of videos or things like that. It’s more about being authentic, really connecting with people, and then that helps them to connect with your brand because now they feel like they are connecting with you and not just a product or service. Terrance is still new with his Introvert Leader platform, as it’s only been about eight months, so he is continuing to learn himself, as well.

Failures in Your Business and the Fear of Failing

Another big thing for introverts is the fear of failing, especially in business. You tend to have a fear of failure about putting yourself out there. You may be scared if you do put yourself out there that you will fail, so it holds you back from completely putting yourself out there. Terrance has a lot of thoughts on this area because he has failed a lot. He has done network marketing businesses, at least four different ones. He was an event promoter at one point and has dabbled in real estate. He has experienced failure in all those areas. He has had successes, of course, but way more experiences of failure in business than success. What’s interesting about it for him is that he has learned way more from the times of failure than the times that he did well. He 100% understands that feeling. It’s a feeling of like having a goal, having this business that you really want to thrive in, and you’re passionate about it. You want it to do well, and then if it doesn’t do well, you feel like you have failed. It’s as though you have wasted your time and asked yourself, why did I even put myself out there like that? Why did I do that? What helps him now, and the reason that with Introvert Leader, for example, he doesn’t have any fear of failure is because for one, he has already failed at a number of things. For him, there is nowhere to go but up. The thing for Terrance now, is that he is going to give this to the world and the people that it resonates with, it’s going to resonate with. That’s all he can control. 

His other point about failure is that life is short. You only get one shot, so if you have something that you are really dying to put out to the world, do it. If this product or service can help somebody, then you should put that out into the world because you only get one shot to do it. You have to think of it from a standpoint of, okay if I don’t do this because I’m afraid of failing, then what’s going to happen. Five, ten, or fifteen years may go by and it may still be on your mind, so the one thing about trying things is if you try and it doesn’t go the way you expected, at least you can hold your hand high and you can say you know what, I tried. if you truly put your best foot forward, gave all your effort, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. For any introverted entrepreneur, Terrance says don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to fail. If anything, you always learn a lesson from it, and it’s just all about having the right mindset.

Awakening the Leader Within as an Introvert

Something that Terrance has been passionate about is helping other introverts awaken this leader within themselves. He decided to write a book because there is definitely a gap for introverts who want to be better leaders or even solopreneurs who are having to move into a leadership role and don’t really know how to be the best leader that they can be. The book is Quiet Voice Fearless Leader.  It has ten principles for introverts to awaken the leader inside and going back to his story, he just had a lot of self-doubts, lots of insecurities, and things he was dealing with. He never really understood the source of these things, so when Terrance looked up and saw himself leading these teams of people and in the positions he was in, never thought he would have been in, he said to himself, I know there’s got to be people out there like me, that were dealing with some of the same things. They may have some of the same insecurities, doubts, ways that they look at themselves, so that’s really why he wrote the book. It’s 10 chapters and every chapter of the book has a different leadership principle. It also has three pillars, and it talks through what the principle is and how those pillars can help. Each chapter ends with an action plan because it’s really important when you read things that there is a takeaway and how to be able to apply it to your life. 

Terrance gave so many valuable and powerful tips on confidence and embracing your leadership potential as an introvert, on this podcast episode today. He shared how an experience in seventh grade rocked his confidence to now becoming the introverted leader that he is, why introverts make great leaders, being overlooked for these roles, being pressured to act more like extroverts, hurdles to overcome as an introverted business owner, facing failures and the fear of failure in your business, and awakening the leader within you as an introvert.

Don’t forget to follow Terrance on Instagram for more tips on being a leader as an introvert and how to embrace that side of yourself. You’ll also want a free copy of the first chapter of his book Quiet Voice Fearless Leader. The book is releasing very soon and I know you will want to get your hands on it.

What are some other hurdles you have had to face and overcome as an introvert in your journey to accepting who you are?

A Breakdown of This Episode

[1:34] How Terrance’s journey began as an introvert, and how a turning point led him to become the introverted leader he is today

[3:50] What makes introverts really great leaders and why are they being overlooked for leadership roles

[10:02] Confidence tips for introverts who feel pressured to be extroverted

[13:07] Overcoming hurdles when starting your own business as an introvert

[17:36] The fear of failure and working through your failures as an introverted entrepreneur 

[22:21] Terrance’s book, Quiet Voice Fearless Leader, and his passion behind helping other introverts awaken the leader within

If you enjoyed this episode, I invite you to take a screenshot and tag me on your Instagram stories @introvertcoach and tell me your biggest takeaway!

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