What makes a great leader these days? Does it have something to do with the willingness to take risks and invest in dreams? Is it calculated by works of innovation? Surely, there’s more to a great leader than what many dictionaries, blogs and online articles can ever define. While great leaders harness the power of their dreams in making it a reality, perhaps, it’s that attitude that got them to the hall of fame. More than just the willingness to work non-stop to achieving their goals, it may have something to do with the attitude. This now comes down to a question: Who makes great leaders: Introverts or Extroverts?
Putting an Introvert in Charge
Recently, I’ve watched a talk by Susan Cain on the Power of Introverts (as shared below ). What struck me is that in this digital age, we live in a world of ceaseless noise and most often, the way to beat everyone else is to make sure that you are louder. In this extroverted business world, just how can the silent ones survive and thrive? Being outspoken and sociable is a must as we connect with each other, offline and online. Still, what’s surprising is that research shows most of the thought leaders in their field are introverts, even in this era of social collaboration. Perhaps, introverts make better leaders because of one thing: They’re more likely to listen and pay attention. Those who everyone sees as a quiet and shy person may possess that reticent mind tailored to success.
Introverted Leaders: A Diamond in the Rough
Those who are not outspoken doesn’t mean they are dumb. It’s an oversimplification. On the other hand, if someone is quieter, that person may be more focused in doing his/her job well, making sure that everything is done properly. This quietness is their strength because they know how to think first, before talking later. Unlike extroverts, they learn through listening and their calm demeanor can help them become more focused on finding the best solutions. These types are more likely to dig deeper in solving issues before moving on to new ones. Whenever things go wrong or arguments heat up, they exude that calm confidence that makes them speak slowly, but reassuringly. They may not be great at talking, but they take time composing their thoughts to come up with the best words to articulate what they have in mind. In the long run, this kind of clarity helps an introverted leader gain more trust from his/her team – paving the road to great leadership.
Stomping Out the Extroversion Bias
Unfortunately, introversion is treated like some type of disease that children need to be treated from. Our society even encourages us to take on the extrovert ideal, of becoming a charismatic, outspoken ( and nearly narcissistic ) person. Being bold and gregarious has been our way of survival ever since the first humans lived. Even in our modern offices, we conduct brainstorming sessions and encourage everyone to think loud.. and most often, the one who did the loudest gets the favor of the group. Because of this bias, many introverts feel that there’s something wrong with them and they try their best to pass as extroverts. They willingly give up time to spend in quiet, worthwhile activities so they can attend social events instead. I have nothing against extroversion though, and I believe that a balance between the two is like Yin and Yang; also, introverts shouldn’t be put on a bad light just because they prefer to spend more time at home.
Because introverts are at their best when they are solitary, the next time someone marked you as one, just smile and be proud… You have the makings of a great leader!