Introversion is commonly viewed as a barrier to leadership, as in this society we represent leaders as outgoing, bold, and alpha vs soft spoken, quiet, and mellow. But that’s a cliché. Introversion is not a barrier to leadership. Organizations need introvert leaders for their specific skills.
“We don’t need giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who build not their own egos but the institutions they run.” Susan Cain, Quiet.
Introvert or Extrovert, what does it mean?
It is how we respond to stimulation. Just like our gender, it is a part of our identity. Extroverts crave a lot of stimulation (being in the spotlight or surrounded by a lot of people…). By contrast introverts feel the most switched on in a quieter environment. About 40% of people are introverts.
Introverts are often wrongly considered as ‘shy’. Being shy is being afraid of the judgement of others, which is a personality trait not necessarily linked to introversion.
The power of introvert leaders:
“In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders—particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business”. (Harvard Business Review)
Introvert Leaders create a virtuous circle of pro activity
“Introverts are uniquely good at leading initiative-takers. Because of their inclination to listen to others and lack of interest in dominating social situations, introverts are more likely to hear and implement suggestions. Having benefited from the talents of their followers, they are then more likely to motivate them to be even more proactive.”
Introvert Leaders are wiser at decision making
Extrovert leaders, even with little information in hands, tend to make quick decisions and tend to take risk more recklessly. On the contrary, introvert leaders will first collect more information before making decisions. This is why companies with introvert leaders were less affected by the 2008 financial crisis, having invested their money less precariously.
Quiet, The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
In her book Quiet, Susan Cain gives a thorough analysis of our world dominated by extroverts and pays tribute to soft talents of great leaders like Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Gates, Rosa Park, Gandhi, Moses… She reminds us not to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. We definitely need more introvert leaders, join the Quiet Revolution!
It is more difficult for introverts to attend networking events as breaking the ice is not a natural skill. If you are an introvert leader, I recommend you to read my recent post 5 tips to break the ice at networking events.
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