Can Introverts be Leaders?

Written By: Dr. Steve D. Whitaker, Head of School


“Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” Psalm 139:14 (NLT)

Can introverts be leaders? I believe the answer is unequivocally yes. I reached that conclusion because I believe our Creator intentionally designed us to complement one another and expand the creativity of His Kingdom.

Adam S. McHugh is an introverted leader. In his book, Introverts in the Church, he urges readers to appreciate themselves and others for who God designed them to be. In a society geared toward the loud, fast-paced extrovert, he suggests that the equally valuable, more introverted individual gets ignored or discredited.

One of the lines in our TFA mission statement indicates that we desire to train Christian leaders . . . who choose participation as a way of life. However, participation can come in many different forms. One of the benefits of a school like ours is the ability to engage students with different learning styles and personalities in a safe environment.

Whether you consider your child (or yourself) to be an introvert or an extrovert, I think there are three helpful insights from McHugh that we can apply as parents, students, and teachers at The First Academy.

  1. We benefit from those who are different than us. People don’t fit neatly into labeled boxes; they are complex, layered, and created by a loving God. If we only interact with people who think and act the same way we do, and enjoy the things we do, we miss out on amazing gifts and talents. When we branch out, we learn and grow as a person and a Christ-follower. We all have strengths that should be used in community.
  2. Leadership is a calling that manifests itself uniquely within each leader. Extroversion is not interchangeable with leadership. When we recognize leadership skills in a child who may be more thoughtful or quiet, we should encourage them to lead where and how God calls them. Some prefer the stage and others prefer to work behind the scenes at an event. The introverted leader has a special ability to sense and to feel the nuances of climate and culture within the group. They are valuable members of the team, but often feel their quieter voice is ignored.
  3. Self-acceptance is crucial, and it comes through a relationship with God. This is absolutely necessary to remember no matter who you are, what you enjoy, or how you “gain your energy.” You’re only defined by what you allow to define you. As believers, our identities are rooted in Christ. We have worth and intrinsic value because He loves us and wants us to know Him personally. When we realize that, we can accept our personalities, whatever they may be, and explore the ways we can help further the Kingdom of God. If you are the parent of an introverted leader, take time to help your child discover their identity in Christ. It is the foundation for their effectiveness as an introverted leader.

As parents, our primary task is to cultivate and encourage our students to fully understand who they are in Christ. Next we want to help our introverted leaders find pathways of expression for the talents and abilities God has given them. For more information on bolstering the work of the introverted leader, read Adam McHugh’s book and visit the blog of Jennifer Kahnweiler.



Steve Whitaker, Ph. D.
Head of School