Why Introverts Make Great Leaders
The famed Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung was the first person to identify personality types into 16 personality frameworks. To over-simplify his detailed analysis of personality types, there are mainly two types of personalities, introverted and extroverted. The dimensions within these two inward and outward looking personalities matter a great deal as not all introverts and not all extroverts are the same, and introverted and extroverted personalities can overlap, with introverts having some extroverted qualities and vise-versa. But for the sake of this article, I want to dismiss some of the stereotypes that suggest that introverts are weaker leaders than extroverts, simply because they have an inward-looking mind.
Extroversion seems to imply, mistakenly, that extroverts are more open, better with people, more verbose and charming, and make better leaders. But extroversion also comes with less of an ability to empathize with people, see the deeper implications of decisions, bring critical and emotional thinking to the job, and build teams and cooperation across teams better than, arguably, an introverted person can.
All personalities have their value, genius, and blind spots. When faced with a candidate who is quieter, listens more than speaks, thinks about what they say before they say it, and keeps the global view of the organization in mind before they think about themselves, you might be interviewing an introvert. And these introverted qualities and characteristics have a lot of strength to add to an organization that might be dominated by the more outward and assertive extroverted type. Here are some reasons you should have more introverted types in leadership positions.
Introverts are just as adept at leading, and in some ways, they have an advantage over their extroverted counterparts. Here are some of the many leadership qualities of introverts that are often overlooked.
Introverts Are Motivated By Results, Not Personal Ambition
One of the biggest misconceptions about introverts is that they aren’t as motivated to succeed as extroverts. This is not true.
The introvert is simply wired differently. The reward system of the introverted brain system of thinking is triggered by different stimuli. Personal recognition and professional advancement means less than building and maintaining the team’s productivity, quality work, and teamwork.
Introverts Build More Meaningful Relationships
Because introverts are most motivated by quality and productivity, they can seem disconnected from other people, unfeeling, or unable or unwilling to build personal connections. This is the opposite of the inner reality for introverts. They have a rich, creative, compassionate inner life. They are just more able to remove themselves from the equation compared to extroverts.
While some introverts may not be openly conversational in large groups or find it easy in large gatherings to open up, they are all the while taking it in and thinking. Introverts are great at developing deeper, more meaningful connections with employees and clients in a one-on-one setting because they do genuinely care about and empathize with the needs of others. This genuine relationship-building makes an introverted leader more in tune with each member of the team than an extroverted leader.
The Next Shiny Object Doesn’t Distract an Introvert
Introverts see beyond the immediate environment. They might even be described sometimes as dreamy. They aren’t. They simply see beyond the surface and into deeper issues related to strategy, teams, and organizational planning. They are better able to tune out the noise and concentrate than their extroverted peers. They draw their energy from within, not from without, and therefore they can more easily focus on the task at hand without being distracted by loud voices, opinions, and hectic office deadlines.
The ability to stay focused amid distraction enhances the qualities that make introverts great leaders. Their motivation for quality and productivity means fewer missed deadlines, better team morale, and the ability to promote thinking and new ideas in the organization, as they are better listeners and delegators than their extroverted counterparts.
Introverts Are Strong Problem Solvers
Problem-solving is the basis of all good leaders. Introverts usually have thicker gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain for abstract thinking and decision making. This leads introverts to decide after giving it great thought and reflecting on creative ways to solve problems. Research has also found that introverts are less likely to make snap decisions.
Because quality work is always the goal for introverts, they don’t settle for mediocrity. An introverted leader will be more likely to listen to the thoughts and misgivings of team members than an extrovert. The introverted leader will want to ensure success by addressing concerns directly before moving forward. If a disagreement does arise, the lack of concern for their own social standing gives an introverted leader the advantage in addressing the issue for the good of the project, not for their own advancement or accolades. They will typically be the most honest in their assessments of situations and people, without involving their own feelings.
The best leaders aren’t always the loudest and most noticeable ones. The idea that introverts are lesser leaders than extroverts is a dangerous and misleading assumption to make. Any company would serve its own success well to allow more introverts to lead, even though the extroverts might loudly declaim their abilities. Introverts have abilities and ways of thinking that extroverts don’t have, and even have trouble understanding. Many CEO’s might be A-type extroverts, but there is another kind of CEO, the introverted CEO, who has abilities you won’t find in an extrovert. You need all kinds of people in your organization. More introverts at decision-making levels will give you balance. They won’t want the spotlight for themselves. They will rather showcase the business, your team and make goals for the organization that put you in the spotlight rather than themselves.
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