One of Horizons' key tenets is that anyone can be a leader, and that anyone can influence change.

As a natural introvert, for many years I thought I was too quiet to be a leader, or to influence change. I remember school reports saying things like "Leigh really needs to learn to speak up!" It was as though to be quiet meant to be forgotten, or ignored, especially amongst the more extrovert, and those who love to talk.

I know many fellow introverts share similar feelings, so I wanted to share what I've learned about how this quality can actually be an advantage.

How so? As the article this post links to suggests, the ability to listen is a huge benefit - and one that is often undervalued.

Listening helps people feel valued, and that they and their views matter - an element vital for successful team working. Giving people the gift of your time to listen to what is important to them is always appreciated.

One of my favourite quotes is by the wonderful late Maya Angelou:

"The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply."

Listening helps us understand so much. 

Listening often means you are observing: dynamics in a group setting, for example; or better able to pick up on non-verbal body language cues. This can help us identify what isn't being said - which can be just as, if not more, insightful than what is being said.

If you're more of an extrovert there are simple ways you can improve your listening skills - and, as importantly, demonstrate you are listening. You could try active listening such as reflecting back what the person has said by paraphrasing. This can be a really useful tactic for improving understanding - especially when we're busy and have got a million and one things on our minds. It can therefore help us to achieve goals more quickly and efficiently.

Find out more about influencing positive change by joining The School for Change Agents - an innovative, interactive online course. Everyone is welcome, and the course is provided free of charge.