I have had co-workers who are amazing leaders, and I watch them and see what type of body language they have, how they say things, and how they treat others. Often times, great leaders you know are willing to sit down with you and help you find that confidence and drive to get out there. There are also opportunities to watch great leaders from afar for inspiration, such as Michelle Obama, Tony Robbins, Rachel Hollis, Oprah, etc.
Finding your confidence and understanding what type of leader you want to be can help drive you forward. Research different types of leadership, and see which one resonates with you. Not all leaders must be extroverted. Lots of employees with appreciate key qualities about an introverted leader. But one thing I know from experience is that you need to flex into being an extrovert, particularly at work. It will be uncomfortable at first, but soon it will be second nature.
A great book to read around this topic is : Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Cant Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Find groups and clubs the organize around your hobby of choice and commit to them. This could be anything from your favorite sport, to board games, to writing, to camping. Anything. If people enjoy doing it, you can usually find a group of them doing it together.
As introverts, we're only ready to experience new things when we're with people we know, or experience new people doing things we know. Pick something you know, join a group of people doing it, and then show up and experience it. Make it a goal to be more involved than the bare minimum. Organize some the events, make plans, work with others (especially if it's a team sport)... all of these things are what leaders do on a daily basis, in the broadest sense.
Leadership is less about telling people what do to and managing others, and more about listening to your team and making informed decisions. These are skills you can practice comfortably (and without too much risk) in hobbies and while making friends with people you already know like the things you do!
Hopefully this helps!
A good place to start is by finding a school club or a setting where you can be yourself. Speak up. Participate. You don’t need a fancy title at school or work to be a leader – just find the opportunities to get out of your comfort zone.
Confidence is a key piece here. Remember that not every leadership position means talking in front of thousands of people – it can mean doing something you didn’t think you were capable of or qualified for – and succeeding. Learn a new skill, strike up a conversation with a professor, join extracurricular groups, perform in front of an audience. All these things help you gain some form of spotlight, which inevitably pushes your boundaries and leads to self-growth.
–This answer combines input from a group of marketers with more than 12 years’ experience - all currently working at a global tech company. We hope you find it helpful and wish you the best in all of your endeavors.
I agree with Angel, volunteering is a great way to gain leadership experience. Find a community project and volunteer to take the lead .
Chiquita recommends the following next steps:
I was told once when I was younger to be more confident and I thought that it was just a failing that I wasn't. I've learned that confidence is built over time through the accumulation of experiences. All the struggles, fears, letdowns of not knowing what I'm doing slowly gave way to the experiences and memories I have of learning through repetition, failing, and trying again telling me that, "hey, i actually can do this."
Definitely agree with others and recommend find an interesting activity or volunteering opportunity that you enjoy and start there. As you get comfortable, i would also ask the group for more responsibility or a chance to be in charge of an event, initiative, or project.
Challenge yourself to slowly extend your comfort zone vs just forcing yourself out of it. If jump a mile out of your comfort zone it may be more discouraging than trying to grow your comfort zone by an inch or two consistently.
One great opportunity may be to start your own group or organization if your school offers them! You will struggle, but you will learn a lot at your own pace.
Ron recommends the following next steps:
By reading all of the responses to your question, clearly all of us introverts have a lot to say about this topic! Personally, I believe introverts make great leaders because we are meticulous, observant listeners who "look before we leap !" My husband, on the other hand, is an extrovert who enjoys talking (he knows all of our neighbors by name), loves to post selfies or self-help videos on social media sites, and will not hesitate to leap first and look later (with the hope that someone recorded him so he can post it on social media and go viral!) He's definitely not camera-shy.
Volunteering is a GREAT way for us introverts to gain leadership experience. I have volunteered for many types of organizations and at many community outreach events over the years and discovered that I love being a part of something bigger than myself. The leadership experience became a natural by-product of serving others. Find causes important to you and then make yourself available to help.
Best wishes to you on your journey!