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Why You Don't Need to Be Extroverted to Be a Successful Leader

Beth Thornton

December 10, 2018

You don’t have to be George Washington to be a successful leader. When you think of great leaders, do you think of people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Steve Jobs? Or do you think of people like Abraham Lincoln and Rosa Parks?

All of these people have a litany of accomplishments that follow them, but their personalities fall into opposite categories: the former were extroverts and the latter were introverts. All of them were known for great feats, though.

You Have Strengths Others Don’t

As an introvert, you have leadership skills to offer an extrovert may not have. Jennifer Kahnweiler, author of The Introverted Leader, suggests introverts lean on the “4 P’s” as a roadmap for leadership. She says, “The 4 steps are preparation, presence, push and practice and can apply to almost any leadership scenario.”

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As introverts naturally lean towards preparation, this may be easy for them. Presence involves staying in what is happening now, not worrying about the future or looking toward the past. Push is getting outside your comfort zone. Lastly, practice is learning and developing new behaviors.

Introverts Outperform Extroverts in Leadership Roles

Harvard Business Review collected data on 17,000 CEOs and published their findings. They discovered introverted CEOs were more likely to be successful than extroverts. Perhaps it is the introvert’s introspection or quietness which gives them time to analyze things more clearly. They didn’t score higher on the integrity or hard work categories and yet, they are doing a better job than their extrovert counterparts.


They Might be Better at Solving Problems

Extroverts and introverts are different in many ways, including how they approach problem-solving. Medical Daily reports introverts typically have thicker gray matter in the part of the brain where abstract thinking and decision-making happen. Because of this, introverts are more likely to think about and consider a problem through to the end before making a decision. Introverts rarely make rash decisions, which could be one of the reasons they are great leaders.

Just because you’re quiet doesn’t mean you won’t make a great leader. In fact, #introverts often have better #leadership skills than #extroverts. Read more on @InspireSoftware’s blog:Tweet this!

Introverts Listen More Than They Talk

Introverts are usually good at listening. Not simply to make people feel good, but because they’re taking in the information and analyzing it. They may not chat it up or “work the room” very well at parties, but they are genuinely listening with their full attention. They want to understand the content of what is being said so they can respond thoughtfully to the information and maybe learn something while they do.

Interpersonal Skills Matter Most

INSP-Why-You-Don't-Need-to-be-blog-insert-2It doesn’t matter what type of personality you have if you don’t have people skills. The best skill you can tap into for your career is developing people skills. As a leader, you will regularly be communicating with people under your leadership as well as those above you.

It is essential for you to communicate well with both groups of people. While it may seem like extroverts dominate this skill, it’s simply not true. Extroverts may be able to talk more, but introverts listen carefully to determine how to respond, which can be more beneficial.

Successful leaders find their leadership values from within and develop them over time. Introverts have so much to offer in leadership roles that people with a different personality may truly be lacking. Stick to your strengths and be willing to develop new strengths in areas you’re uncomfortable with as you work on pushing outside of your comfort zone. As the data shows, introverts can be even better leaders than extroverts, despite the fact extroverts have long been touted as the better candidate for the job.

Being an introvert doesn’t mean you’ll be a successful leader right off the bat, though. Leadership takes work and development to truly be great. Check out our Five Contexts of Leadership to achieve leadership genius.