Instant Authority: 3 Fast and Easy Leadership Skills for Introverts

Ramit Sethi

People have all kinds of stupid ideas about what it takes to be a leader.

They think “Oh I can’t be a leader. I hate being the center of attention.” Or “I’d rather focus on my own work than worry about what everyone else is doing.”

They think being a great leader means being popular or manipulating people or using secret skills like reading other people’s body language.

But real leadership skills have nothing to do with being “born a leader” or always being in the spotlight. Let me give you an example:

When you think of Silence of the Lambs, what’s the first name that pops into your mind?

Hannibal Lecter, of course.

Hannibal Lecter was played by Anthony Hopkins. He dominated that movie. But here’s the thing — he wasn’t playing the hero. Hannibal wasn’t even the villain. And he was only on screen 16 minutes.

For nearly 90% of the movie he was nowhere to be seen. It was the shortest performance to ever win an Academy Award for best actor. When I first heard that factoid it blew my mind. It made me realize that the stereotypes about leadership — that you have to be loud, pushy or a big alpha male type — just aren’t true.

Think about the things great leaders have in common:

  • People listen when they speak. I mean, can you imagine Bill Clinton having to raise his voice to get someone’s attention…? Or having to speak over someone else to be heard? No — when he opens his mouth, every other mouth in the room shuts.
  • People remember you later — even if you don’t say a lot. Just like they remember Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs.  
  • People think of you first when they need a solution to a problem. If you had a computer problem who would you want to fix it? Personally, I’d want Bill Gates.  I couldn’t get him, but that would be my number one choice.

Leadership is all about having the right skill set. And just like any other skill set it’s something that you develop with practice.



Me in college. Not inspiring.

Back in college I weighed 120 lbs soaking wet. I was socially awkward. Hell, when I first started trying to teach people about personal finance, I couldn’t even get my friends to come to a free class.

But since then, I’ve written a NYT Bestselling book. Google brought me in to teach their employees about personal influence. And hundreds of thousands of people have come to this site to learn everything from advanced social skills, to how to negotiate a raise, to why they shouldn’t send people pictures of their penis.

I’m not telling you any of this to brag. The simple fact is that all of my success is from studying the tactics that other successful people have used, and figuring out how to apply them to my life. I’ve done the same for leadership skills, and today I want to show you 3 simple tactics you can use to give yourself instant authority without being a jerk.

Strategy #1: Know Before You Go

One thing I talk about a lot is front-loading the work. That means putting in the work beforehand so you can reap bigger rewards later on. It’s probably the biggest key to success in any area of your life. And as I explain in the video below leadership is no different.

Remember, front-loading is about being ready to add value whenever you walk into a room. The key is to take just 60 seconds to prepare.

Ask yourself “What can I talk about to start a conversation?”

  • Is there something happening in the news?
  • Is something trending on social media?
  • What do people want to talk about in this group situation?

And think to yourself, “How do I want people to feel?”

  • Do I want them to feel liked?
  • Do I want them to feel entertained?
  • Do I want them to feel attracted?

Make it a habit like brushing your teeth in the morning. That way, when you go in, you’re not depending on others to entertain you. You’re starting off adding value to others first.

Strategy #2: The 90/10 Rule of Leadership

There’s a rule in business called the Pareto Principle that says, ‘80% of your results will come from just 20% of the work you do.’  When it comes to leadership, it’s more like 90/10. 90% of leadership comes from just 10% of social interactions.

A good example:

How many times have you been out with friends and heard this conversation:

Friend 1: “Where should we eat?”

Friend 2: “I don’t know. Oh, what do you think?”

Friend 1: “I don’t know.”


This happens all the time. People do it when they talk about where to eat, what movie to see, what to do this weekend, and a million other things. And 90% of the time it doesn’t even matter what the decision is.

This next video will show exactly how to use that situation to establish yourself as a leader without being pushy.

Notice how each of those scripts is gentle. It’s delicate, but it’s also being a leader.

You can use those scripts whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you’re 40 or 25. In fact, you can even use them if you’re 25 or 30 and talking to an employer who’s twice your age.

That is the power of being a leader.

You don’t have to flex your muscles all the time. You can simply make suggestions knowing that it’s adding value, so other people don’t have to think.

But what if you’re just painfully shy? What if you find it hard to speak up at all?

That’s OK. This next skill will show you how to deal with that.

Strategy# 3: The Invisibility Cloak

One Halloween during high school, my school put on a haunted house.

For the haunted house, I wore a mask and a cape. It was really interesting to observe myself and the way I started to act. I started acting crazy, running around and scaring people. I did all these things that I would never do if it were just me wearing normal clothes.

Why? Because I felt safe behind the mask.

Years later, as I started trying to improve my leadership skills, I realized the power of what I had accidentally discovered wearing that mask.

Here’s what I learned: I didn’t have to change who I was. I could simply change the way I acted.

I call it The Invisibility Cloak Technique — a simple but effective way to cover up all your fears and anxieties before you enter any social situation.

Whenever you’re in an uncomfortable situation, imagine you’re wearing a cloak that makes you invisible. Hide anything that makes you nervous under the cloak. That way other people only see an outgoing, confident leader.

If I go to a conference, I’ll put on my Invisibility Cloak. It allows me to feel confident and say, “Who am I going to be today? What is my behavior going to reflect?”

If I want to be a really friendly and outgoing guy, I’m not changing who I am on the inside. I’m just changing my behavior. And over time, my attitude changes to match my behavior.

These three strategies are a fun, easy, and proven way to instantly boost your leadership skills. But I want to give you one more extra piece of help.

Bonus: The Confidence Game

Now there are dozens of techniques to help you feel confident in awkward situations. And thinking of yourself as “shy” is probably the biggest thing stopping you from developing strong leadership skills.

That’s why I created a video series I call “The Confidence Game: 3 More Simple Leadership Skills.” It will show you three more easy to implement skills that will boost your confidence and make you a better leader.

Just enter your email address below and I’ll send it to you right away.

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