Studies show that a majority of professionals in leadership roles display extroverted personalities. But that doesn’t mean they’re always better managers than their introverted counterparts.
In 2010, Adam M. Grant, Francesca Gino, and David A. Hofmann conducted research that found some fallacy in the conventional wisdom, which is supported by years of academic research, that extroverts make the best leaders.
They wrote in a Harvard Business Review article that their findings suggested that extroverts and introverts were equally successful in leadership roles overall, and that introverts, in certain situations, actually make better bosses.
LinkedIn user Rahul Sinha recently published a post on the social networking site in which he wrote about his own thoughts on introverted leaders.
“To my surprise, I [have] read and heard, [‘I am an introvert’] from many successful executives,” he writes. “They also confess that at some point in their journey they have had to work to overcome being overlooked or misjudged because of their quietness.”
Sinha points out that some of the most admired or successful people, past and present, are introverts, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Abraham Lincoln, Audrey Hepburn, Larry Page, J.K. Rowling, and Albert Einstein.
Citing publications such as Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” and Jennifer Kahnweiler’s “The Introverted Leader: Building On Your Quiet Strength,” Sinha offers a few reasons why introverts can make the best leaders, despite common misconceptions:
They tend to be excellent listeners.
“Introverted leaders are generally considered to be better listeners than extroverted leaders,” he says. “A study shows that introverted executives with proactive groups can be extremely successful because introverted leaders carefully listen to what their teams have to say and vice-versa.”
They typically embrace solitude.
“Introverted leaders are boosted by spending time alone. It gives them opportunities for self-reflection, reasoning, speculating, monitoring, arranging, or envisioning, not to mention reading, researching, and writing,” Sinha says. This can be especially beneficial when it comes to reducing interruptions and needing to stay focused.
They are the “wizards of preparation.”
“Thoughtfulness, consideration, and thorough preparation are principles every leader should employ, but for introverts, these vital principles come inherently,” he explains. Introverts typically think before they speak and act, whether communicating with their team, delivering presentations, or interacting with colleagues. “They devote time [to] thinking through their objectives and preparing for queries.”
They tend to exhibit coolness.
Leaders who are calm and exhibit a sense of self-confidence can “do miracles” for their company, Sinha says.
“I’m not dividing the world into extroverts and introverts,” he explains. “And, I am also not saying that extroverts are not good leaders. They are.” He says he simply wrote this post “with an objective to highlight the importance of introverted [people.]”
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