We help maximize the effectiveness of individuals and organizations by helping them improve their ability to lead, work together, select and develop their people. Some of our related business services include: executive coaching, executive team coaching and executive assessments for development and selection.
Carl Robinson, Ph.D., Managing Principal
Why Introverts Can Be Great Leaders
“Introverts are more difficult to work with because they do not like to be around people and have a hard time being a team player.” - Unknown
Are you an introvert? If so, then it’s likely you’ve been plagued by such misconceptions for most of your career. The truth, however, is that some of the biggest and brightest CEOs of our time are or were introverts. Take Bill Gates, for instance.
Gates is a self-professed introvert and everyone knows it. When asked during a recent interview
about his own ability to achieve success in spite of being an introvert, Gates had the following to say: “Well, I think introverts can do quite well. If you’re clever you can learn to get the benefits of being an introvert, which might be, say, being willing to go off for a few days and think about a tough problem, read everything you can, push yourself very hard to think out on the edge of that area.” Great minds (and introverts), like Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs, would likely agree. Yes, Steve Jobs has been labelled an introvert at times. It might be more accurate to say he was a "learned" extrovert.
Misconceptions in the Making
The egregious misconception originates from a mass of inaccuracies about an introvert’s nature and temperament. Individuals who are unfamiliar or just simply fail to educate themselves, tend to think that introverts are shy, dislike people, prefer to stay at home and alone, and have the ability to change the way they are to become more like extroverts. On the contrary.
Designer, producer, and creative genius, Carl King, corrects
- Shyness does not preclude being an extrovert. You can be an introvert without being shy. In business, an introvert is more likely to deeply ponder and mull over decisions and paths of action before they speak on them. While introversion does not equate to intelligence, introverts are known to produce some pretty awesome results from their lengthy thought sessions. (e.g., Steve Jobs)
- Introverts actually love people and very much value the relationships and connections they have. They, however, tend to have only a handful to which they are intensely loyal. In business, this correlates to a manager’s ability to choose employees and partnerships wisely.
- While an introvert does enjoy solitude, as it provides a way to get more attune with thoughts and daydreams, he or she is perfectly okay in public settings. The difference is the preference for the setting to be more intimate as they are worn out more easily by large groups. In business, managers are wise to allow introverts to work alone, as this is how they work best; however, group or team structures can be achieved by ensuring not only even representation of introverts and extroverts, but also for the way time is spent: giving adequate time for deep thought and hashing through those thoughts on paper before any presentations are made.
Getting it Right
Do you identify with the list provided by King? If so, consider yourself a member among a prestigious group of individuals who have and continue to prove the power and value of an introvert’s presence in the workplace.
And, whether you’re an introvert or not, as a CEO, you need to be aware of the introverts around you and the potential value they add to the company. It’s important not to make the mistake of discounting them because they seem to recede into the background.