Introversion is the state when one is mainly interested in his/her own mental self. Introverts like solitary activities, they prefer to read, paint, write, hike or even play video games. There even are some stereotypical jobs that are highly associated with introversion, such as scientists, engineers, etc.
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Introverts do not enjoy being with large groups of people, participating in social gatherings, nor do they prefer being in the center of attention. Even though none of the characteristics mentioned above tells us what kinds of leaders introverts may be, in my personal opinion, introverts would excel at leadership for a couple of reasons.
A lot of people think that introverts are always shy. This is a typical mistake – introversion is actually more of a preference, rather than stress or shyness. Introverts do not fear encounters, however, they are judged to be weaker than extraverts, which is basically a stigma nowadays. A lot of famous and very influential people were introverts (Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, etc.) and they have enriched our society in a manner that is truly impossible to ignore. Introverts have a high level of measured thoughtfulness. They focus on the ideas and memories. Despite the fact that the extraverts are sometimes more “seen”, perceivable and appreciated by the society, it is empirically proven that the level of introversion actually increases with intelligence. For example, about three-quarters of people who have IQs higher than 160 are introverts (Santovec).
Leadership, Influencing the Group Performance
It is thought that extraverts present a bigger part of the world’s population (more than a half, at least). It is also a well-known fact that extraverts enhance group performances, but we should always take into consideration that whether or not the leader is motivational depends not only on the leader but on the group as well. Even though it is known that extraverted leaders are very effective when the members are passive or introverted, if the group is active, an introverted leader actually is more appreciated and inspirational, since extraverted leaders tend to be not as receptive to proactivity (Grant).
Introverts in Politics
Obviously, every single politician should have enough skills to communicate with the public, to look appealing and trustworthy even to complete strangers. In Barbara Kellerman’s paper “Introversion in the Oval Office”, two presidents of the United States of America – Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon – are being discussed. On their examples, we may see that introverts are just as influential and inspirational as extraverts. If even world leaders and well-known scientists are introverts – nothing can stop an introverted person from taking the lead in organizations and leading groups. As long as people have enough logical and rational arguments to prove their points – introversion and extraversion does not seem to matter.
If we look at the issue of the introverted leaders from a very naive psychological perspective – introverts are taken even more seriously than extraverts. Since they seem more distant and careful, people more often than not trust them to know what they are doing. If leading a group means making tough decisions, thinking through every single consequence that one’s decision may be followed by – than introverts are definitely destined to be great leaders.
Kellerman, Barbara. “Introversion in the Oval Office.” Presidential Studies Quarterly, vol. 13, no. 3, 1983, pp. 383–399.
Santovec, Mary Lou. “Introverted Leaders: Not an Oxymoron.” Women in Higher Education, vol. 23, no. 5, May 2014, pp. 16–17.
Grant, Adam M., et al. “Reversing the Extraverted Leadership Advantage: The Role of Employee Proactivity.” The Academy of Management Journal, vol. 54, no. 3, 2011, pp. 528–550.
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