Is leadership reserved only for extroverts?
Do extroverts make the best leaders? Experienced leader and coach Stela Toderascu provides a surprising answer to this question.
Are you an extrovert or an introvert?
A month ago when I was doing some research on coaching introverted people, I came across this test. I was quite sure I am more extrovert than introvert so I was genuinely curious about the results of the test. I always thought of myself as an extrovert. I like to socialize, to have fun, to sing, at least I used to :). You would say these are prominent signs of an extrovert.
According to the result of the test, I am a public introvert and a private extrovert. After reading the description it made sense. I liked all the “extrovert” experiences but with people I knew well and felt comfortable with. I believe I am 50% introvert and 50% extrovert. I was told I am a good listener, a calm and peaceful person. At the same time I enjoy company, going out and speaking at conferences. I have led small teams and big teams, and working with proactive people always brought good results.
Forced extroversion is not healthy
A while back, in most of my one-to-one discussions with my supervisor regarding my development as a leader, he told me I needed to be visible, I needed to say something at every meeting, so people can see that I have opinions, that I am agile and involved.
I’ve done this several times and I was thinking it was helping me, but I wasn’t so happy about it, and I eventually understood why. What my supervisor had suggested me to do was forced, exercised, thought in advance, it was not spontaneous. I felt more comfortable managing projects and working in teams than being an “always present” member of the management team. I would present an idea only after being sure it’s a good one. I never thought this might be because I was an introvert.
Quiet people have the loudest minds.
After taking the test and remembering my experience, one question popped in my head:
Are introverted leaders as good as the extrovert ones? What difference can they make in a company?
At least one thing is clear: based on my experience, the extroverts get noticed and get promoted faster :).
It’s simple really: they show confidence in themselves, they express their opinions with great ease and give the impression that they know what they are doing.
They have a quick answer to any question, they know good jokes and feel comfortable in any situation.
How not to notice such a person and why wouldn’t you want to have such leaders in your company?
Introverts bring different strengths to a management team
What about the introverts? They can bring different strengths to a management team: they are quieter, maybe too analytical, not so spontaneous.
At the same time, they are intuitive, good strategic thinkers, and good listeners.
They are not intruding, they can come up with a great idea if you let them analyze a bit and be sure it’s a good one.
Introverts are collaborative and work very well with both extroverts and other introverts, being open to suggestions and more effective in leading proactive teams.
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This 14 min Ted Talk by Angela Hucles made me even more confident that introverts can make good leaders.
There are no pure introverts or extroverts, but it’s estimated that 50% of the population are introverts.
Among the world’s business leaders 96% are extroverts
According to Harvard Business Review only 2% of people in senior leadership roles identify themselves as “introverts”. Extroversion is considered one of the most important traits a leader must have.
Having this in mind, I searched for introverted leaders and these are just a few names I could find: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Albert Einstein, Larry Page, Al Gore, Marissa Mayer, JK Rowling, Mahatma Gandhi, Hillary Clinton, Michael Jordan, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and Barack Obama. Enough names to convince you?
In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.
Rollo May, American existential psychologist and author of the influential book ‘Love and Will’
I think a good balance of extroverts and introverts in a management team is healthier than having extroverts only.
In my experience, I had the best results when I was part of a team comprised of 50% introverts and 50% extroverts.
Whether you manage a team of five people or you are the CEO of a 100 people company, consider achieving a healthy balance of introverts and extroverts in your team.
Give this idea a try and let me know how it went.
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