Today by Nahuel Scotti | 4 min read

The introvert Engineering Manager

Navigating social expectations in leadership roles


As an engineering manager, one is often tasked not only with technical leadership but also with fostering team cohesion and camaraderie. The expectation to organize and participate in social activities with the team can be a significant challenge, particularly for those who identify as introverts. In this post, I’ll dig into the struggles faced by us, introverted engineering managers, and explore strategies for overcoming these challenges while fostering a positive team culture.

Introversion isn’t shyness

Introversion is often misunderstood as shyness or social awkwardness but is simply a personality trait characterized by a preference for solitary activities and introspection. We get our energy from within and may find social interactions taxing, especially in large groups or unfamiliar settings. However, this disposition does not diminish our ability to lead effectively or build meaningful relationships with our team members.

The norm

One of the main struggles we deal with is reconciling our need for solitude and reflection with the expectation to engage in frequent social interactions such us organizing team outings, leading brainstorming sessions, or simply participating in casual conversations. We may feel overwhelmed by the constant need for social stimulation. This can lead to feelings of exhaustion, anxiety, and even imposter syndrome, as we grapple with the pressure to conform to extroverted norms of leadership.

We may fear that our reserved nature will be perceived as disinterest by our team members, and as a result, we may feel compelled to force ourselves into uncomfortable social situations, sacrificing our authenticity and well-being in the process.

Despite these challenges, we possess unique strengths that can contribute to our effectiveness as leaders.

How can we navigate the expectations of social engagement while remaining true to ourselves?

Firstly, it's essential to recognize and embrace our introverted nature as a source of strength rather than a limitation. By honoring our need for solitude and self-reflection, we can recharge our energy reserves and approach social interactions with authenticity and intentionality.

Secondly, we can leverage our strengths in communication and relationship-building to foster meaningful connections with our team members. Instead of large group activities, we can focus on one-on-one or small group interactions, creating opportunities for deeper conversations and relationship-building. By actively listening and showing genuine interest in our team members' perspectives, we can cultivate trust and rapport within our team.


Additionally, we can delegate social responsibilities to team members who thrive in those environments, empowering them to take ownership of team-building initiatives while providing support and guidance as needed. By fostering a culture of inclusivity and collaboration, we can create a supportive environment where team members feel valued and respected for our unique contributions.

Social activities to bring the team together

Delegate the “escape rooms” or “bowling” activities to those who enjoy it or let the team to self organize.

Concentrate on those situation where you feel more comfortable:

  • Hackathon or R&D days: Coding is an environments where most (ex-developers) managers feel good at.
  • Explain your code sessions: Setup workshops where you or other developers explain how a piece of code works. This is great place for knowledge sharing and allow interesting conversations and debate.
  • Code in the dark: This one requires a bit more of preparation, but if you have the help from your office manager and peers it shouldn’t require a lot of work. It is a fun and healthy competition.
  • Watch or go to a conference with your team: A great way of spending time with the team and it doesn’t require you to talk or organize.
  • Dev book club: If you are like me, a developer who manage, you’ve read some books about tech and watched a lot of video tutorials. Spend some time sharing this incredible amount of knowledge.

Final words, embrace your introverted nature

In conclusion, being an introverted engineering manager comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to navigating social expectations and fostering team cohesion. However, by embracing our introverted nature, leveraging our strengths, and prioritizing authenticity and intentionality in our interactions, we can cultivate positive team dynamics and lead our teams to success. Ultimately, effective leadership is not about conforming to extroverted norms but rather about harnessing one's unique strengths and values to inspire and empower others.

  • #anxiety
  • #delegation
  • #engineering
  • #expectations
  • #extrovert
  • #introvert
  • #leadership
  • #management
  • #role
  • #social-activities