Introverts Make Great Leaders
Be a leader not a follower. This is something we’ve been told our entire lives. But, what is a leader supposed to be? We see a leader as someone who is charismatic, sociable, and outspoken. We live in a world where we revere those who are talkative and outgoing, also known as extroverts. Our society has built up a belief where if we are quiet and an introvert, we will always only be a follower.
In school, we are told that introversion is something we must over come and per say a “weakness”, that is standing in front of our way in order to become a great leader. Approximately 50% of the worlds population are introverts. Are we telling 3.5 billion people in the world that if the want to be a great leader, that they must change who they are? This is a belief that is widely based on our misconceptions of what an introvert is.
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The dictionary defines an introvert as a shy, reserved person. But in reality, a introvert is not always shy, and a shy person is not always an introvert. Being an introvert just means you appreciate your time alone and lose energy when you are around other for too long. It also means that you may be relatively quieter or more reserved. This leads to the notion that introverts cannot be leaders, and that extroverts are the ideal leaders of the world. Right now there is a cultural bias against introverts. If we choose to believe this extrovert ideal, that extroverts are somehow better leader than introverts, then we are saying people such as Ghandi, leader of the movement from Indias independence from Great Britain was not fit to be a leader.
That Steven Spielberg, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg were not fit to be leaders. Because every person stated previously, is an introvert. And yet, every single one of them was able to lead others and achieve something that changed our world for the better. We tend to think of these people as exceptions to the extrovert ideal, people that were able to overcome the so called obstacle of introversion and achieve greatness. But what we should do, is see them as pioneers of the community of introverts who are paving their way towards becoming great leaders and breaking the misconception that extroverts make the best leaders. In fact, there are many qualities of introverts that may make them even better leaders than extroverts.
Contrary to popular belief, introverts work very well in groups because they are great listeners. In a study by Harvard Business Review they show that introverted leaders are better for proactive groups. They studied managers and employees at 130 pizza franchises, and results showed that when proactive groups had an extroverted leader, their profits were 14% lower than average. While on the other hand when a proactive group had an introverted leader, their profits were 16% higher than average. In this case, having an extroverted leader actually damaged the success of the pizza franchise.
This is because the introverted leader was able to do something that the extroverted leader couldn’t, which was to listen. They were able to listen to the ideas of the people around them, and listen to improve the success of the pizza franchise. The introverted leader could then go on to analyze these different ideas and thoughts and turn it into something productive and beneficial. This goes on to show that introverted personality types aren’t unable to be a leader and lead groups through activities.
Harvard Business Law also states, “To succeed as leaders, introverts may have to overcome a strong cultural bias. In a 2006 survey, 65% of senior corporate executives viewed introversion as a barrier to leadership, and other studies have shown that highly extroverted U.S. presidents are perceived as more effective.”. But all in all, we see and evaluate the differences in leadership and we see just how introverts can indeed be successful and positive leaders to proactive people. They obtain qualities that are important if not more important when it comes to leadership and taking on that level of responsibility.