The Reason Introverts Make Better Leaders

The tech boom with founders like Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Evan Spiegel (Snapchat) has brought introverts into the spotlight. But there is still a stigma around introversion and leadership.
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Author Susan Cain is probably best known for her breakout TED talk based on her bestselling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Cain is helping people on both sides of the fence, introverts and extroverts, understand each other better in personal and professional situations. She and her team have created the Quiet Leadership Institute, to enhance organizational performance through the understanding and empowerment of introverts.

Why this matters, according to Cain...

By creating environments that encourage introverts to understand and draw on their natural strengths, organizations will increase productivity, innovation, and impact. To support organizations in accomplishing this goal, we help introverts to communicate, connect, and lead in an authentic manner--while also teaching managers to better engage with, and lead, their introverted employees.

From Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Einstein to Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates, some of history's greatest leaders and innovators have been introverts. Almost half of all human beings are introverted by nature. It's time to take a closer look at the role of introverts in today's organizations and learn how to create environments that allow them to reach their full potential for the benefit of the entire organization.

That said, why do introverts make better leaders?

The tech boom with founders like Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Evan Spiegel (Snapchat) has brought introverts into the spotlight. But there is still a stigma around introversion and leadership and Susan's work is helping to set the record straight.

One common myth says extroverts are better leaders than introverts. This is false.

According to Adam Grant's research at Wharton,

Studies show that 96 percent of leaders and managers report being extroverted. And in a poll, 65 percent of senior executives said it was a liability for leaders to be introverted, and only 6 percent saw introversion as an advantage. Extroverts must be better leaders!

Not so fast. Extroverts are more likely to be attracted to and selected for leadership roles, but they're not better leaders than introverts. When I tracked leadership effectiveness with Francesca Gino and Dave Hofmann, we found that extroverts and introverts were equally successful overall--and excelled with different types of employees. When employees were passive, looking for direction from above, units led by extroverts had 16 percent higher profits. But when employees were proactive, voicing suggestions and improving work processes, units led by extroverts had 14 percent lower profits. Extroverts had the enthusiasm and assertiveness to get the best out of passive followers, but they hogged the spotlight in ways that stifled the initiative of proactive followers, leaving them discouraged and missing out on their ideas.

Susan had some important parting words of advice for introverts and extroverts who want to be successful:

To Introverts...

Have an inner sense of entitlement to be who you are.

Once you're comfortable in your own skin you start to organize your life differently. Don't make apologies or pretend to be someone you are not. This could include scheduling some quiet time alone after a busy day of meetings or closing your office door for some deep reflection. Stay connected with people and avoid total isolation. Your ideas matter and you have a lot to bring to the table.

To Extroverts...

Consider the Yin and Yang approach.

Instead of trying to change people into how you think they should be or rewarding the most out-going person with leadership, remember how important collaboration with different kinds of people can be. There is no successful company that doesn't have people from both ends of the spectrum. Respect each other. Learn to tap the strengths of both groups.

What did I leave out? Post a comment below or tweet me @BryanElliott and I promise to reply! To watch more episode of Behind the Brand, visit:

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