Adrian Malpass

Business Developer (Emotionally Intelligent), The Experience Group

This conversation is closed.

Do introverts make better leaders?

Part of what I do is involved in developing emotionally intelligent businesses, leaders and teams.

Having recently seen Susan Cain's video on TED.com on 'The Power of Introverts' and listened to her in a recent radio interview here in the UK, I am increasingly finding my mind occupied by wondering about any link between being an introvert and being a successful leader.

My experience tells me that introverts quite possibly, or even probably, make better leaders than 'extroverts'.

What are your thoughts?

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    Apr 3 2012: Extrovert leaders I think tend to follow a simple, linear direction, following their own individual judgement of where that direction should go, and usually with great speed. This looks like strength and competence, particularly to those who themselves are ill at ease with the responsibility of leadership.

    Introvert leaders are collaborative and empathic. They are genuinely interested in the views of others, so the direction in which those others are led, is more likely to be democratic. But it is definitely a slower process, and thus incompatible with the way businesses are run.

    i think it depends on the end goal of the group being led. Each leadership style has value, depending on whether the end goal needs quantity or quality.
    • Apr 5 2012: Well said sir. I consider myself an introvert and I am a leader of people. You described me to a tee.
    • Apr 7 2012: You have described what I have always thought about myself, I am also a leader of people and always seek collaboration from my team. I feel that if I can get their point of view and make plans together they will by into the end result and we all become successful. I am someone who empathizes and takes seriously their concerns, I help them out whenever I can and I teach them how to do things. This type of leadership I believe is beneficial for the long term viability of an organization. Unfortunately we are in an age of needing results fast and when we can't see the forest for the trees the slower process isn't as valued. I am motivated by the growth and learning my staff achieve from my coaching it is very satisfying to believe in someone even though others don't, work with them and have them succeed. I believe that quality is always better than quantity because quality will eventually give you quantity. I have sacrificed my own success because I truly believe in the long term success of a team. I believe a good leader needs to listen to their staff, gain their trust and respect and work with them and not above them. You need to understand the challenges they face, celebrate their successes and support and help them when they are struggling. I don't believe there are a lot of leaders who are solely focused on the success of their people. My experience shows a lot of managers focused on themselves and their success and will most times not be honest about the obstacles their staff are experiencing just to make themselves look good. It is in everyone's best interest that we talk about those challenges because in today's environment of do more with less productivity is suffering hugely.
    • Apr 7 2012: Really well said, Allan. People tend to think that extrovert leaders are more powerful and competent than introvert leaders. But the former one can be shallow even though they may look like the people with charisma . We should not judge people by their mere personalities or behaviors. Introvert leaders can definitely be better than extroverts.
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      Apr 10 2012: I was in engineering management for many years and was always an introvert. I had to learn through experience and patience to work productively with peers, bosses, and engineers. It was not always working in the beginning so a lot of practice was required, which I got! I found that my introversion made others feel safe to express their ideas to me and this ended up producing superior solutions to the technically difficult problems we had to solve on a daily basis. I especially liked (after a while) working with peers who were extroverted, since we had an interesting back and forth, especially in group settings, that moved us both to the behavioral center (ambivert?). Working with an extroverted boss was much more difficult and often resulted in wasteful clashes over management style: "you need to TELL them what to do!" "I feel it may be better to work together to find the best solution"...
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    Apr 12 2012: A definition of extrovert and introvert...
    An extrovert leans towards needing external stimuli to occupy their minds.
    An introvert can occupy their mind with very little external input.

    I'm not sure about the idea that all introverts are shy and all extroverts are social studs!
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      Apr 13 2012: From all the comments I have read, I think I read them all, this is the first comment towards the right direction. The second possibility with shy and social people, that you exclude, is the one that comes to someone's head first (including my own). The majority of people, I think that this is how they define introverts and extroverts. Some others believe that it has to do with yelling.
      The final conclusion is that most of the people, in this debate, are confused. The author should provide accurate terms. That would be an extra motive to buy the book and to participate in a conversation that would provide useful results.
      • Apr 14 2012: Look what I found on line about introverts.....maybe this helps you:

        Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.

        Introverts are more concerned with the inner world of the mind. They enjoy thinking, exploring their thoughts and feelings. They often avoid social situations because being around people drains their energy. This is true even if they have good social skills. After being with people for any length of time, such as at a party, they need time alone to "recharge."

        When introverts want to be alone, it is not, by itself, a sign of depression. It means that they either need to regain their energy from being around people or that they simply want the time to be with their own thoughts.


        I personally have acted like an introvert at times, and other times, as an extrovert. I think that is why the presenter of the TED talk closed with the fact that we don't have total introverts and extroverts. Balance is key....
        • Apr 16 2012: Introverts get drained by being around people too long because in most social situations people do not act true to themselves, they put on a front, or a projection of how they think they should behave, a form of political correctness or self-monitoring in psychological terms. Introverts can see through this (speaking about myself as an introvert on the myers-briggs test) and so this type of environment becomes unpleasant in long durations. Of course if the social setting is a true reflection of people projecting their true personalities, then introverts do not get drained and gain satisfaction from the experience.
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      Apr 13 2012: Rob --

      A good analysis. And, I agree. I know extraverts who are actually somewhat shy and introverts who are anything but. It simply has to do with where their energies are stimulated.

      Andrea
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    Apr 12 2012: Introvertness is just a small portion of ones character, it alone doesn't defines a person as whole. ofcourse, introvertness can be regarded as sign of weakness, but then we must also think that there were no such great leaders in the history without even a small sort of weakness in their personality.
    anyway, introverts can definitely think like a non-introvert person or can even think better, and as i know,beeing extrovert is not the most essential or supreme quality of a leader ... so why don't we just concentrate on other things to judge leadership.
    • Apr 16 2012: Being an introvert does not necessarily make a person weak, because like you stated many other elements make up personal characteristics. For instance, I am an introvert, but I also have a dominant personality (blanchard assessment), and am Type A on the Type A/B personality scale (organizational behavior test). If anything, I am overconfident, too outspoken, stubborn, too much of a perfectionist, and too demanding. However, since I know my strengths and weaknesses, I have the ability to enhance my strengths and limit my weaknesses. To know thyself creates the ability to improve thyself. However, I should also add that my personality is very rare according to myers-briggs (less than 3% of the population). I also think everyone should take the personality assessment tests to find out who they truly are for self-improvement purposes.
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    Apr 5 2012: I watched Susan Cain's Video as well. I found it quite enlightning and motivating. As an educator it solidified my belief that each child is special and unique with their own learning style. Susan Cain's video was an invitation to celebrate diversity and encourage it at various levels in our daily lives.
    To ask the question whether introverts make better leaders is really to generalize and risk stereotyping. I believe it depends on the disposition, inclination and expertise of that particular person in a given profession. Leaders, introverts or extroverts must be visionaries always mindful of the big picture or destination and the means to accomplishing the end.
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    Apr 3 2012: I think introvert/extrovert is simply a personal preference. Much like I prefer broccoli over cabbage. That does not mean I will not eat cabbage, I just don't prefer it. I am not sure that either one predisposes a leader. It is simply a style. What the leader needs to do is to understand and acknowledge the preference and understand how to leverage the strengths and address the weaknesses of the preference. (Find somebody else to eat the cabbage). It is just such a teeny piece of what it takes to be a leader anyway.
    • Apr 4 2012: Linda.....balanced well-thought out, practical answer.
      Well said.
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      Apr 7 2012: I echo Linda's view.

      There's a tendency to oversimplify introversion or extroversion as absolutes when the majority of people sit on a spectrum and exhibit more of a preference for one or the other (as you state). In addition, I'd argue that the context of the situation will be important in deciding whom the best leader would be. Depending on what the issue is, what the goals are and who the audience might be may, will all influence the optimal leadership qualities needed. Leadership in of itself is not easy to define - hence the ever growing literature on that subject.

      Moreover, extroversion and introversion are not the only elements of character/personality that should be taken into account. Using Myers-Briggs as an illustration, intuition versus sensing, thinking versus perceiving and feeling versus judging are all important too. A leader in a science lab may need to be someone who is an introverted, sensing, thinker whereas someone leading a group of activists on a march for a social cause may need to lean towards an extroverted personality. However, these too may be overly simplistic!
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    Apr 13 2012: Introverts ( I am one) are among other things: Precise, thoughtful, not in (much) need of the approval of others. Because of these tenancies, I have been told that I make a great leader; Problem is.... I don't (generally) want the job. Yes, I may be good at it but I value my time to "just think" more than I value the kudos of others. One of our statesmen (I don't remember who) said that "in order to find a great leader, look for the man who does not want the job" . Also The introvert, because of their need to be congruent with their morals FIRST, will do the best job that they know how to.
  • Apr 12 2012: Hello,
    I believe Andrea has it right. I am not an introvert by any means, but I feel I am emotionally intelligent, or as I have learned it to be empathetic. I feel, in a very real sense, what others are feeling to some extent, which (if paid attention to) has helped me relate well and often lead other by allowing me to encourage them when they need it. Being empathetic is kind of being given a boost in that emotional intelligence, but true maturity with a mindset for others as equals is the best way to achieve emotional intelligence, I think.

    And as far as introvert/extrovert they both have needed qualities for good leadership. As an introvert you have the natural talent of the behind the scenes observation and taking everything in before taking action, but usually lack the ability to communicate your observations and plans, as well as motivating others to get behind you. As an extrovert you have the natural talent to communicate with others making it easier to communicate your plans and motivate them to get behind you, and encouraging them to take action, but usually lack the ability to sit back and observe before making plans and taking action, tending to jump the gun. But the areas that each lack are abilities that are totally teachable and can be learned and practiced to make you a better leader if you so desire.

    Thanks for asking and making conversation on this topic.
    Wendy
  • Apr 6 2012: As an introvert myself and from my past experience I have been regarded as a decent-to-good leader. Perhaps, what would lack the most would be the communication matter, as mentioned by Salim, as well as in the human-relationship matter; however, I do believe that introverts communicate efficiently but restricting their communication to exactly what they need, want and barely anything more.
    For example, when I need a colleague to fill a report, I am more likely to make my request in 3-5 words (taking into consideration my mood and my relation with the person), which may sound "robotic" but not exactly rude - I call it a different way to express myself.
    All the projects under my leadership, both individual or in group (which I don't really like, as Susan Cain proved to be common) have been successful - and even some school projects were a massive success (which would not be possible without the special contribution of every member). I am very organized, very detailed and an annoyingly perfection-seeker, as well as very careful regarding human resources, time, motivation and all other issues present.

    To finish up, from my own experience, whether being an introvert or an extrovert does not determine whether we are good leaders or not. My dad is the most annoying-extrovert kind of person, but I have learned a lot with him, and learned a lot with me (for example, that the rarest the compliments, the more special and motivating they become - but they should exist, in the right time and in the right place), despite having very conflictual points with him. He worked in a banking institution for over 25 and was regarded as an excellent leader. There are many traits needed to a good leader, extroverts and introverts just have different leadership and managerial styles, along with different POVs, reactions and ways of thinking.
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      Apr 12 2012: "I do believe that introverts communicate efficiently but restricting their communication to exactly what they need, want and barely anything more."

      With this you put it down to the pure essence. Bravo!
      I am the same (except for the perfection-seeking). ^^
  • Apr 3 2012: i think if we take our social expectations of what a leader is off the table and accept that the quietness of an introvert embodies power, deep thought and careful planning and can in fact result in a great leader. There is no need for the 'gung ho' attitude and americanisms of loud brash leaders to equal a successful leader. I personally know in the past that being an introvert was seen as 'room for improvement' in a perfomance review. Thank goodness for people like Susan Cain highlighting the attributes of being an introvert - such a shame schools and industries don't think the same. It's interesting when you look at other cultures, such as Japan, where quiet resolve and calmness seem to epitomise their strength as world leaders in a variety of industries.
  • May 1 2012: Extroverts tend to go with their idea and push it onto everyone else, I think, even if the plan might ideally need a bit of rethinking before being carried out. Whereas the more introverted types don't want to be so 'invasive' in the group. Hence them not taking the lead so much, even though their ideas are often the most logical and, as someone else said, the most moral, or considerate, of the group.

    I reckon extroverts are the best leaders if the thing they are leading is worth leading. They have more passion and power to bring people together. Whereas for more 'general' leadership, introverts would normally do a better job because they are more considerate of the whole situation, as opposed to anybody's individual ideas or motives.
  • May 1 2012: I strongly believe being a great leader is a state of mind. You don't necessarily need to be the most outgoing person in the room but you do need to be able to capture your teams attention. When trying to inspire others you need to know your audience and be able to inspire action. Yes, this is easier said then done but if you truly believe in your message and convey it through your words. Then your going to be able to generate followers. Remember its not what you say but how you say it.

    Many different great leaders throughout history haven't been the smartest nor the most outspoken of their time. What do these great leaders have in common? "They believe" when you believe in what your saying no matter if your an introvert or not you will be able to generate followers. People are drawn to passion and everyone wants to believe in something. No one wants to be told what to do but rather we want to believe in what we do.
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    Apr 26 2012: Interesting that I am reading this topic here after having read an article in HBR on "How Introverts Can Become Better Innovators"
    Francesca Gino from HBS writes, "But compared to extroverts, introverts may be more open to others' creative ideas. Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Dave Hofmann of the University of North Carolina, and I conducted some research that shed light on this possibility. We asked managers and employees at 130 franchises of a U.S. pizza-delivery company to fill out a survey, and we obtained data on each store's profitability. Managers answered questions about their own personality. Other employees answered questions about their attempts to introduce improvements in job procedures. We found that in stores where employees tried to proactively introduce their creative ideas for improvements, introverted managers led stores to higher profits than more extroverted ones did. In franchises where employees stayed quiet and didn't offer their ideas, extroverted managers led stores to higher profits than more introverted managers did."

    Full article here: http://blogs.hbr.org/hbsfaculty/2012/04/how-introverts-can-become-bett.html
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    Apr 19 2012: I feel its contextual.There are organisation situations where extroverts are required to propel the organisation.In certain situations where the organisation is mature, introverts may be better suited since a " maintenance" role is required. There are certain roles where the introvert is a better leader and other situations where the extrovert is a better leader.Leadership qualities needs to be viewed bearing in mind the context.
  • Apr 17 2012: Being Introvert or Extrovert is not how you define leaders.A short and precise definition of a Leader is one who is able to better the lives of people around him.There is no particular trait which can be attributed for a person to be called a Leader.
    A person who is introvert need not necessarily be some one who cannot manage people or things around him.In the same way,an Extrovert need not necessarily be someone who is able to manage gamut of things.
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    Apr 13 2012: Why we dont see in a deep review some historical leaders, and find their abilityes to leadership?

    Some examples:

    Marco Aurelio
    Atila
    Saint Francis of Asissi
    Sain Ignatius of Loyola
    Saladino
    King Richard Lionheart
    Leonora D'Aquitania
    Cesare Borgia
    Pope Paulus III
    Amerigo Vespucci
    Napoleon I
    Adolf Hitler
    Mao Tse Tung
    John F. Kennedy
    Emiliano Zapata
    Angela Merkel
    Evita Peron
    Francisco Franco
    Fidel Castro
    Che Guevara
    Charles de Gaulle
    Noam Chomsky
    Albert Einstein
    Pablo Picasso
    Teresa de Calcuta
    Dalai Lama
    Vladimir Lenin
    Jules Verne

    The list is so big but this are just a few real leaders to research their introvertion or extrovertion.
    But no the gray "office and corporation "leaders".
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    Apr 13 2012: In her prologue, the author described that she was an introvert and had some issues with extroverts. In her epilogue, she neutralized her initial statement, by admitting that we don't have total introverts and extroverts. Then what is the point in categorizing people?

    If any person can judge to change its behavior, from an introvert to an extrovert according to the surrounding needs, what is the exact purpose of this debate? It is a tactical behavior of the average person to shift between these two roles. Is there anything more in it? Maybe it comes in phases and it is not a tactical but a strategic behavior. And this is something to debate about.

    Anyway, I can't recall any known psychological disease connected to introvert and extrovert behavior solely. I would say that behavior patterns are "symptoms" rather than "reasons" for a psychological disease. And most of the times we will meet both in the same patient.

    Leaders also use both behavioral patterns accordingly. So an issue like "introvert VS extrovert behavior in applying leadership" sounds more accurate. In any case, the author talks about introverts and extroverts (people) and not about an introvert or extrovert approach in leadership. That sounds like a mistake to me rendering the entire positioning useless. Probably I am making an error, that I can't detect since I am not an expert in this. But it is a very vivid impression.
    • Apr 16 2012: Because humans are complex creatures. That being said, we still need to explore the nature of humanity to gain a better understanding of what makes us human. It is in our nature to explore and be curious about ourselves and everything around us, and categorization is just a tool in the research and examination process.
      • Apr 17 2012: It has really been interesting learning about introverts in this conversation ....I had a totally different concept of what an introvert was....I thought introverts were, according to how people have used it around me before, someone shy, and not open to communication........but, according to what you said in your reply to me, introverts dislike social situations because people do not act true to themselves. I am thus an introvert..............by this definition.

        I do not get satisfaction when I interact with the people around me.....most of whom do not share my enthusiasm for learning and growing. I guess that is why I enjoy TED so much. I have an intellectual escape when I participate in these wonderful conversations.

        Thanks Edward.
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        Apr 17 2012: I do understand the need of exploring human nature and categorizing as a tool. But I also say that the categorization "set" we use here, might be the wrong set. The debate's question-approach, that we all consider as a "fact" it can probably be wrong.

        So, according to my opinion, the answer to the question: "Do introverts make better leaders?" is this:

        Behavioral patterns, cannot be linked with "leading capability" and its various forms and needs in any way. The reasons of introvert and extrovert behavior, vary from person to person and they don't reveal the characteristics and potential of their personalities. We cannot talk about introvert and extrovert persons (personalities). We can talk about behavior (introvert or extrovert).

        This is the "set" of categorization that I propose and the definitions we should have used.
        • Apr 17 2012: Philip, for what it's worth, I totally agree with you.
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          Apr 17 2012: I disagree Phillip. These definitions are based on self report. Not observed behavior.So they are intrinsic reports of the tendency for introvert or extrovert preference. Not behavior that someone else observes. Just sayin...
        • Apr 17 2012: Exactly, introverts and extroverts are defined through self-assessment, not a behavioral research study/ Only you truly know what is going on inside your head. However, it is possible to lie and be dishonest in assessment, but it is difficult because you get asked the same questions over and over again throughout the test with different wording and slightly different twists and spins, which is the genius behind self-assessment. Someone else is not determining who you are, you are just finding out who you already are.
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    Apr 12 2012: I reckon introverts would make a better leaders only if they have other leadership characteristics to back them up (OR if they have extroverts to assist them in where they lack).
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    Apr 12 2012: Adrian,

    Successful leaders, in my experience, come in a variety of intelligence- and "Meyers Briggs-" types mixes.

    I think it is always dangerous to proclaim any one style or personality as the be-all. In fact, I think a key characteristic of great leaders is their inability to not "be themselves." Authenticity can be an exceedingly powerful factor in one's personality. As a model for the organization, it's stakeholders and, even clients. And, it implies integrity, which can't be determined by introversion or extraversion, but builds trust and commitment with collaborators, co-workers and, sometimes even community.

    That said, I do think the tendencies towards reflection, self-awareness and seriousness introverts often possess affords them some depth that can, if communicated verbally or non-verbally, be very constructive. These characteristics can insure thoughtfulness in plans and behaviors, insight into ones ego and its impacts on leading, sincerity about the work and co-workers, etc. and space for others to find their voices, strengths and capacities for shared leadership.

    On the other hand, introverts need to develop sufficient emotionally intelligent communications styles that they can rally the troops, inspire confidence with stakeholders and shareholders and convey the vision and direction of the organization, in both micro and macro scenarios. These are important skills because, in the absence of them, an introverted leader and her/his leadership can be misconstrued, if not ineffective.

    Though I'm an introvert-type leader and the odd-ball INTP type, no less. I'd have to say that the most critical factor in any leader is related far more to their emotional intelligence (and this is not inferred, in my mind by the introvert label) than anything else. And, this emotional intelligence, by definition means that the leader has adapted his/her psychology to accommodate all styles, not only their own, but others quite different from them.

    Andrea
  • Apr 9 2012: A single characteristic such as introversion or extroversion is hardly responsible for making a 'better' leader. Leaders are those who take the reins of power (or have them thrust upon them) and it is often the case that people who desire say... political power, should never be permitted to take it. The quality of leadership is judged in hindsight, when all of the actions of a particular leader are known.

    History has not been kindly to Margaret Thatcher but mention Mahatma Ghandi and the picture changes to a positive one. Abraham Lincoln stands up to historical scrutiny whereas Richard Nixon does not.

    Leaders of companies have been both reclusive and outgoing. Howard Hughes was known as a hermit and Steve Jobs was frequently branded as mercurial but he was the visible face of his company.

    Leadership of the kind we desire (and which we all recognise when we see it) requires empathy, common sense and a light touch. The trappings of high office and power tend to corrupt those who take up a leading position and so we end up with leaders with vision, who are all too human when it comes to practicalities. The higher you rise, the more people notice you and want to bring you down.

    Collaborative leadership by consent can be so democratic that nothing is ever decided. Benign dictatorship is thought to brings benefits to the greatest mass. Winston Churchill was thought to be a great leader. I have heard it said that he was a bad man because it was so easy to send soldiers to their deaths. He is credited with saying: A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.

    This appears to be why he was considered to be a good leader. He had a difficult job to do in a time when it was probably far easier to surrender. A prime example of an extrovert becoming prime minister and taking decisions which mattered.

    Humans are too complex to be reduced to a single character trait.
  • Apr 8 2012: I believe you have to have a balance between the traits of an introvert and an extrovert to make a great leader. Extroverts get more exposure to people which is important in the leadership role. Nevertheless many extroverts remain superficial and care more of pleasing a crowd than to carry out their own points of views or ideas. Introverts on the other hand may reflect more, analyze more and probably make a better decision than an extrovert. The problem is that they have to much trouble in getting it out of to the rest and as a leader you need to take quick timely decisions.
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    Apr 6 2012: effective communication with the rest and beeing open to the group which they lead will include among the qualities of a leader. introverts might judge things well, but can the inspire and motivate a team?
    • Apr 7 2012: I believe they could definitely inspire and motivate better. In a world where words are rapidly losing the strength of there meaning due to overuse an introvert is a gem. A silent person who says one sentence makes a more profound impact than someone who communicates more because the rarity of their speech gives the worlds more substance ( or at least the illusion of it).
  • Apr 5 2012: Ones personal traits determines how we act around people, we can choose to be silent or very out going.
    Leadership is learned and is not a trait. Understanding how to work with people and what people need and want will
    make you a good leader. Someone who doesn't care about people will make a poor leader.
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    Apr 4 2012: Well to me leader is someone who makes things to happen through people, where communication is pivotal. Generally speaking and also from examples around it seems extrverts being extrovert are frequent communicators so are successful leaders.

    That's being said frequent communication does not mean effective communication so introverted people also can be successful leaders if they communicate in right time , in right way to right person in right amount to make things happen......

    Leader should watch more reflect more and talk less that's another thought around so again introverted people also can be good leaders...... well can't find an example though of any introverted leader........any example from friends here will be great

    Last not least to me introversion or extroversion does not matter if one can influence to make things happen.
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    Apr 3 2012: First of all you forget the 3rd one mentioned, ambiverts: "Those who have best of both worlds". Both extremes are no good, but are these terms such as intro and extrovert really that relevant? The good aspect of being introvert is that you have a lot of time for contemplation, the time is spend reading and thinking instead of socializing, which gives the individual the time to ponder over life's mysteries and gives him the opportunity to know more about himself. However, leaders are those that inspire those around them, it is not just a role of a figure head it is also a role which must be tend to by socializing with ones peers. This opportunity paves not only a way to know ones "subordinates", but it also gives access to the sharing of ideas which several occasions are created through disorder and turbulence.

    I think it's not so much the matter of introversion or extroversion, but rather the aspects of both and their share towards good leadership. I'd rather go out with everyone and have a deep turbulent discussion and after enjoy my free time to let those ideas simmer than be locked off from the rest of the world with a couple of books, if I did I'd end up unrealistic extreme idea/ls.
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    May 1 2012: Who better to lead the flock than the one who already watches over it vigilantly?
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    Apr 30 2012: I'm not so sure the classification of people as introvert or extrovert is relevant. Its like classifying people as tall and short. I'm 186cm (6ft 1inch if you prefer). Am I tall or short? It depends on who I'm with. Being extroverted can help with gaining the attention of the people you are leading but good leaders also need to be independantly motivated. Perhaps the best leaders are those that can utilise both sides of their personality when appropriate.
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    Apr 30 2012: Do introverts make better lovers? Possibly. You never know until you see them in action...
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    Apr 26 2012: Actually this can not be determined unequivocally, but this is just based on what is considered to be most strongly in a problem.

    There are two types of leadership. The first leadership comes from mastery of meditation, and second, the leadership that obtained with very few involving the mastery of meditation.

    The first type of Leadership by meditating, giving us less control in the use of introvertness or extrovertness.While the leadership of the second type gives us a strong alignment.

    Although in theory we know nothing of the most important of the two types of leadership, but in practice, we always choose strongly with one of them.

    So, in answer to the question: Do introverts make better leaders? I responded by stating that the best leadership does not come from an introvert or extrovert mastery, but how one or both working together to be able to connect us to a higher source to gain wisdom.

    Perhaps, people tend to say introvert will make our leadership better, because the fact that introvertness will make us easier closer to spirituality or having wisdom at higher level, such us sharpen intuition etc.

    Extrovert or introvert is not a better or best solution to a decision-making process or the like, but extrovert or introvert must be a solution for us to be more connected to the source of the solution itself.

    Do not let the extrovert or introvert playing at the branch for us, but let it take us to the root or source of wisdom.

    Less or more ...
  • Apr 26 2012: If we are talking about true leadership,that surely doesn't have anything to do with extrovertness or introvertness,but everything to do with Decision making power.However,these days,votes are required to make you a leader,one that can act with authority.so some degree of extrovertness is necessary too.I mean people generally like extrovert,open people more.
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    Apr 20 2012: Better leaders can either be extroverts or introverts.it doesn't matter..at the end of the day all it matters is how they have pursued there leadership skills and what they do in order to improve there skills and get out fruitful results from there work.
    so i cant precisely say introverts make better leaders.
  • Apr 19 2012: I think being a good leader, whether introvert or extrovert, has to do more with how you handle people
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    Apr 19 2012: No . Leadership has nothing to do with this aspect .
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    Apr 17 2012: To Linda Taylor

    We agree about Jung and it is my mistake that I didn't say that he define personalities by describing behavior. Yes he didn't try to explain personalities by recording behavior. He proposed the psychoanalytical method. The rest that I say remain exactly the same. Since we define a personality type by describing its behavior but then admitting that we can see the same behavior from other personality types, categorizing personalities that way is useless. Another model is needed (they already exist though).

    My personal approach about behavior in leadership is not an effort to explain personalities. My simple approach is the effects in leadership that behavior has (introversion or extroversion). In fact there is research in that area that has already produce rules of leading and types of leadership and management.
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      Apr 17 2012: Rules of leading. Hmm. You're already out of my ballpark because I do not play by the rules. But you bring up a point that measuring behavior is just output. Not much information. You need to also look at the input and thru-put to really understand true leadership. Ergo personality traits. Too many people making too much money selling too many books full of junk science. Yeah, I read those books too.
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        Apr 18 2012: I sense that you sense some of my worries. Ballpark? To bad sounds like fun.
        Behavior is output, it is a tool, it is a symptom and it can be other things too, symbolic for instance. Ι think I've made my points clear.

        To debate I need clues, evidence, data. If no one can provide "valuable basics", I dispute the original claims, or at least I worry that something fundamental is really wrong or missing. That was my action plan here.

        I am aware of the things that you suggest that I should look for (some of that). But I can only propose things that, as no expert, are acceptable for my field of expertise. Still I've made the mistake to provide "solutions" and introduce other approaches. It is a mistake because, as no expert, I cannot guarantee valuable information or knowledge. Not because I believe that my overall position is wrong.
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    Apr 17 2012: To Edward Bolton

    I can say "someone is a happy person" (it is really a state of being, not a personality). With that I can possibly mean he is optimistic, he is cynical and doesn't care about nothing or he is a sensitive person in a good period e.t.c. In everyday speaking I can say "he is a happy person" or "personality" if you like. But when I approach the term "happiness" I must put it in the right context. I can't drag people in a conversation like "are you a happy or a sad person?" because my capacity to comprehend things ends right there. It is WRONG.

    I will not feel guilty if I say tomorrow "I am an introvert" in a personal conversation. If there is no motivation, money, good salary, a challenge, helping people or gaining real knowledge I can be an "introvert" in no time.
    My introvert character can be "translated" as lazy, a hard liner that doesn't change his opinion, as a shy person that he got scared from his opponents or simply a person that reserves his powers and strength. Maybe it is all that or some of that. Or maybe I don't want people to dislike me and increase tension. We need more data to come to a conclusion. But what ever my reasons are, my introvert behavior is a conscious choice that serves my purposes. And I am not pretending or feeling dishonest. I cannot make it more clear than that.
  • Apr 17 2012: I wouldn't say that either extroverts or introverts make better leaders because they are both extremes on a continuum.
    To gain competitive advantage firms need to be ambidextrous pursuing often conflicting priorities e.g. cost and differentiation, integration and localization. Leadership then means being both an introvert and extrovert at the same time and trying to reconcile these in any particular situation. Extroverts may have a tendency to talk to much and stifle others but they also can energize people and communicate well, while introverts do the opposite- let other ideas come through. But both are necessary for successful operations.
  • Apr 17 2012: Walking the talk is easier to do if you talk less. Chances of hurting other's feelings are less if you speak less.Leaders need to exhibit integrity before anything else. Introverts tend to have an edge in this because of their inherent personality trait.
  • Apr 17 2012: Is and Es differentiate not only in their interaction out to the environment but also in the input taken from it, because of their own different perceptions.
    Each unique person will respond differently to outer stimulations, and, in the non existing ends of these two different personalities, while Is analyze, Es act.
    Therefore, and without being exactly at these opposite places, each one develops a unique set of skills as a result for their behavior and responses got from those behaviors.

    Every I or E responses to any and all situations potentiates that difference, increasing the gap in between, making them more defined on their stance and each getting “perfected” with your own interior feedback. You get into a loop where you praise what makes you so you conditioned by your unique point of view.
    Distance might get attenuated in face of negative reactions towards your ways, but other than that, if you do not feel a need to change, you will remain at your comfort zone, and, in my belief, both Is and Es humbly sure to have the better set of skills.
    Over time, if you become or are made aware of the separation to your opposing end, you might try to break the distance, being this conscious act the way to better yourself adding that what you feel you were in lack of.

    Which is best to lead? I honestly can’t tell.

    In my opinion, introverts are more and more analytical, reserved and measured, while extroverts are more spontaneous, communicational and vivid.

    I picture an introvert in an ongoing internal dialogue seeking for answers, while extroverts tend to provide answers without that much thought. And while sometimes it’s time to act, on other occasions it is best to think it through.
    An introvert needs self assurance before taking the leap to exposure; an extrovert needs a crowd, and on many times the crowd needs him and no situation is better than the other without a context.

    Introverts are masters of their silences; extroverts are prisoners of their own words.
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    Apr 17 2012: To Linda Taylor

    Everybody knows (simply from high school years), that someone can fake and pretend introvert behavior (which directly proves it is a BEHAVIOR). But the person that performs the act, is extremely outgoing and fun. So if we don't know that this person is faking its behavior pattern, (only his friends know) how can we derive conclusions about his personality and his capacity to lead? And what short of team and for what tasks this person would be a good or bad leader? I would like an answer to that.

    The only think we know about this person is that is a teaser. LOL

    Diplomacy is another great example. A diplomat uses introvert or extrovert behavior according to its orders and the cause that he serves. Exactly the capacity of diplomates to change BEHAVIOR according to needs, without second thoughts and remorse, makes them excellent in leading and some of them have make it to prime ministers (LEADERS). They use calmness and talking but they can deliver threats as well. They use hi profile or a low profile, according to the circumstances. When you want to convince, you adjust your BEHAVIOR. But your personality remains the same.
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      Apr 17 2012: Oh I agree with all of the above. But you are talking how we judge other people as leaders. Some of the discussion is about how we as leaders leverage these preferences. But I really like the distinction because it clarifies a lot.

      But behavior is not the definition of introvert/extrovert. The characteristic may or may not be manifest in the behavior as you so well pointed out. It can be measured by self-report instruments that target an individuals preference for certain social situations. So really the only person that can say if you are an introvert/extrovert is you.
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        Apr 17 2012: The fact that this topic is very interesting to me is because the first time that someone characterized him/her self as an introvert or extrovert appeared here (for me). Or because of that TED video I watched here.

        Before, I characterized people that have a low behavioral profile as shy, or scared, or wise (thinkers), cool people, calm personalities if you want, discreet philosophers possibly, silent workers maybe. All these people have totally different personalities. I "learned" here that all the above are introverts (maybe). The definition replaces-covers a huge variety of terms that are very descriptive with one that means actually nothing and gives no clues. Experts can't agree, probably because they mixed philosophy with psychological elements (wrong).

        Carl Jung's definitions indicate it is a behavior (tension). He defined the behavior. He said nothing about personalities. The definitions in wikipedia define extraversion and introversion as a state (of mine), act or habit (behavior again). But the actual definitions they create more questions than answers (very abstract). They also point that introverts and extroverts behave different from their personality type (What else is new?). Nobody mentions ambiverts here(why?). Nobody here claimed that he is an ambivert. Yet they are approximately the 68% of the population.

        Yes you have the right to call yourself as you please but it is a useless action. The behavior is something that can be discussed and provide something useful. Everybody seem to fight that idea.
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          Apr 17 2012: These are Jungian personality types (kinda a subset of Jungian personality archetypes). Introversion/extroversion refers to how energy flows for the individual. There are others, how we take in information etc. Jung believed that you needed to understand the personality through psychoanalytic techniques in order to understand the resultant behavior. Not the other way around.

          When you take personality types (categories) and turn them into personality traits, people fall along a continuum. Then you get closer to the domain of ambivert.

          The behaviorist were people like Watson, Skinner who didn't care as much about the why, they just adjusted the behavior.

          All this is so last century anyway.

          This century they are linking these tendencies with brain structures, dopaminergic and serotonin receptors in the brain and seeing if there is a biological correlation to these descriptors of personality or is it, as you say, just a category. Treatment options would of course be different and you can bet the pharmaceuticals are all over this. I don't mean this in a bad way, but you could imagine the addiction treatment options.
  • Apr 17 2012: I am super introverted, but for some reason, with my team at work i dont operate as an introverted person. Maybe its because i must transmit to them self confidence. I think that someone can be basically introverted or hyperactive but according to the situation or the setting we adapt "change gears" in order to accomplish the job that has to be done.
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    Apr 16 2012: Edward,

    Interesting analysis. Who knows? More thoughts --

    Regards the "E," I don't know that Obama's oratory skills qualify him for an automatic "E." I often speak in public (though no stadiums yet). And it is next to impossible for people who don't have similar "Introvert who is comfortable in social settings" energies to believe I'm not an extravert. Needless to say extraverts are those who find this hardest to understand.

    Regards Obama pursuing Law, I wonder if this wasn't a case of an INTP's drive to break usual models. A black lawyer at Harvard is an innovator, by this line of thinking.

    And regards his policy style. My understanding from a few I know who've worked with him, is he is a stickler for democratic equity. Which tracks with the analytical that INTPs are.

    So what looks like "giving in" to many on both sides of the aisle, I'm reading as yielding to the truest and more inherent ideals of democracy, which requires progress through negotiation. If I'm getting this right the principle related to his integrity is his commitment to the integrity of a true democracy. I suspect, he, as INTPs tend to, questions his own take on principals as much as others. And isn't willing to give his principals a bigger "vote" or influence than others. Including people in his own party. This is where his integrity to the process of democracy seems present to me.

    My theory on political leaders is, if no one is complaining, nothing is getting done. Democratic progress doesn't come without rapids. It comes with progressing through them, in productive relationships. If a leader is riling up roughly equal sides of the political spectrum in the rare balance where democracy can and should emerge from.

    Regards your point on campaigning. This is tougher to debate. But, consider how Obama goes into places like South Carolina and Arizona. This suggests creativity, vision and analytical tendencies of an INTP. And, may - we'll see - be genius.

    Andrea
    • Apr 17 2012: You present a good argument that is for sure. But speaking as an INTP, I have analyzed all of the major issues in our society, and the failed policies of government, and my conclusions present winners and losers in all cases. In real reform, lets say in healthcare or the war on drugs for instance, policy changes that would be best for the people will not be beneficial for big business. There is no silver bullet to appease all sides of the issues. So I guess there may be a thin line between delusional and genius if Obama thinks he can have his cake and eat it too so to speak. If he was like me in any fashion (in character as an INTP) he would at least attempt to push through the better solutions for society instead of thinking he can make everyone happy. Logic and analysis would impact the reality of the situation. I know he realizes to severity of each issue, but I do not believe he is willing to take the political risk (true leadership over self-interest) to enact policies that are for the greater good of society. His actions reflect my statements. Maybe he has the correct intent, but it takes a lot more than that to make major changes. Plus he has to realize that no matter want he does the republicans will twist it negatively since they want him out of power so they can control the office again. So I am not sure of his level of complexity and whether or not it can compare with INTP traits based on what I have seen so far. That being said, I still have tremendous respect for Obama and wish him the best.
  • Apr 16 2012: Many qualities are needed to make a truly great leader. And the topic is not as simple as classifying people into an either/ or scenario. If you have taken the myers-briggs or blanchard DISC assessments or the type A/B personality test you will come to better understanding of personal character design. Introverts and extroverts exist in varying levels of the defined terms. There are high level introverts and low level, and many levels in between. Obviously the same goes for extroverts. That being said, I believe introverts in a general sense are less subjected to being influenced by group think than extroverts. If a person wants or needs to fit in a social order or desires to be popular, that person is more likely to adjust his/her behavior to gain acceptance instead of sticking to a high level of internal principles, a trait normally found in extroverts. True leaders strongly believe in thier principles and are unwaivered in resolve, a trait necessary to make tough decisions that may not be popular, but are better solutions for difficult problems, since major societal issue resolutions will result in winners and losers in most cases. I firmly believe that an introvert is better suited to make tough decisions at the risk of being unpopular because introverts do not need popularity to build self-esteem. However in society a dilemma exists because of the nature of elections. Introverts do not fair well in selling themselves to raise campaign money or votes. Extroverts perform better in this task. So we end up getting great pitch men/women or great salesmen as our elected leaders, instead of true leaders who could inact sound policy for a society.
  • Apr 15 2012: I don't see why researchers and people try to seek out what is better as a leader. I'm a college student, and there's much for me to learn, but in every management class I've taken to date, we've seen at least one research study which tried to explain how this makes a better leader.

    I'm not trying to refute research, far from it. All I'm saying is that all personality types have their good points when it comes to leading a group. Like many before me, it's where they get the most energy, so I'll assume that introverts would be better in independant or individual efforts in leadership, and extroverts in more cooperative ones.
  • Apr 14 2012: I am an extreme introvert and I assure you, I am not a good leader!
    I´m retired now, but had generally better ideas on the fields I was working, but being a leader requires selling your ideas to others and that is generally a weak point of introvert people.
    • Apr 16 2012: I think you are examining the issue from a definition that describes who usually ends up being leaders instead of what characteristics make a great leader. People who pitch their ideas and convince others to buy into those ideas are salesmen, but not necessarily good leaders, they may be great conartists at best. Being a leader is not something that you can push on people. A great leader is defined by his or her actions and people then choose to follow of their own free will. Just because someone is in charge does not make them a leader either, only a boss.
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    Apr 12 2012: If we have a very successful man with status, that reacts very carefully and thinks a lot before speaking, can we say that we have an introvert or a wise person? If wisdom equals introvert behavior, in this case, and wisdom comes with experience and aging, how can we justify that behavior in a very young person? It is obvious that we have different origins for the introvert behavior of these two individuals. In addition can the behavior of both be considered as "healthy", since the reasons for behaving as introverts are different?

    Are "extrovert" and "introvert" terms with clear definitions? If we don't have clear definitions, we cannot make comparisons. Also, are there any pathological reasons behind introvert or extrovert behavior? If someone, from time to time, appears to have both kinds of behavior in what category falls?

    Can "snobism" for instance, be considered as introvert behavior? Or is a hysterical and extreme extrovert behavior? When someone confronts drunk people on the streets, by not reacting, can be considered as an introvert? Wise? Coward? Not in the mood?
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    Apr 12 2012: Adrain,

    After weighing in here regards Meyers-Briggs Typing, I began to think of my own as an introvert. When I Googled, up popped a piece on Barack Obama. He possibly shares same MBTI as I do: INTP.

    It makes interesting points about Obama and leadership styles:
    http://www.cppiconsuccess.com/2009/01/type-and-leadership-an-analysis-of-barack-obama/

    There is some debate whether he is an introvert or not. But I'd bet good chocolate he is. Actually I'd bet a lot more than, that’s how sure I am.

    This all reminded me of a Harvard Business Review piece on topic of "Command and Collaborate" leaders: http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/02/is_command_and_collaborate_the.html#comment-432402627 It and my comments to it get at my points earlier here on your Q regards emotional intelligence. Which for peak performance requires higher-order thinking.

    I do think, given they are thinkers there is some evidence that introverts have meaningful abilities for this fairly rare pinnacle marked by the ability to integrate soft/hard and all in-between information and assets. How I tried to explain in HBR comment:

    “Demonstration of higher-order thinking skills synthesize what is most salient, taking in both hard data and hidden realities.”

    Introverts thinker skills, if balanced with extraverted in-put and out-put can help them challenge even expert and granular analysis—provided they pull noses out from behind spreadsheets long enough to engage. Thus, what separates the strongest leaders from those who can cite theory chapter and verse, but, can't meaningfully integrate it with their corporation's vision and market iterations, is higher-order thinking.

    An example:

    Steve Jobs, an introvert. He struggled when he turned too far inward. But his wins far outshined his moments of navel gazing because he was highly attenuated to the complex landscape of human psychology, including his own ego.

    Andrea
    • Apr 16 2012: I also am an INTP and write left-handed. No wonder I voted for him. I knew I liked something about him. But, honestly, I think he is more likely a ENTP because he can sling a speech as good as anyone. He may have great leadership abilities, but I understand that getting policy changes through Congress is next to impossible. So unfortunately his potential is somewhat limited. Plus most INTP's don't usually go into law, they are usually more creative and analytical. Plus I am not sure of his resolve and integrity. HIs actions display to me that he is more concerned about being re-elected than sticking to the principles he projected in his initial campaign. He has towed the status quo line more than not in most cases. True leaders do what's best for others, not themselves. Lastly, INTP's are really rare, less than 3% of the population, so the odds stand against the propability of Obama being an INTP.
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    Apr 12 2012: I am myself an introvert. I believe us introverts do not lead or manage better, we just do it different.
    While I love my current position it brings up new challenges. I am the type of guy who doesn't like chit chat. I get to the point. But because of that my team is perceiving me as a person much different than I anticipated.

    The point is: The people around us need to understand how we tick and why we lead the way we do.
    Once they understand how we tick it is no longer a matter of being extrovert or introvert.
  • Apr 12 2012: Ms. Walstrom, spoken like a leader, in possesion of self understanding and ambient awareness. Rather than add my thoughts on the question, I think all who care to respond, should read your post first. I certainly can not add any better explanation or answer. Kudos.
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    Apr 11 2012: In my opinion this depends mainly on the organization. Look at Facebook for example; Mark Zuckerberg is more of an introvert leader, but he did create the first real global social network. This probably would have been different if an extrovert leader had been in charge. Then look at Apple and Steve Jobs; he qualifies as a extrovert leader and his actions also guided the company to prosperous heights.

    However, the standard definitions of introvert and extrovert are not as black and white as that (just as Susan Cain says) and there could be both introvert parts and extrovert parts in a good leader.
  • Apr 11 2012: Whether someone does good or bad things really depends on whether their actions are in the best interests of substantive future needs and reasons, rather than out of simple beliefs and desires. Those who control the monetary strings would have us all believe that if we all work toward our desires, then the Invisible Hand will magically take us to Nirvana. In reality, though, the good actions are those that evolve into the future, questioned along the way and developed with accumulated wisdom, not dogma. Extroverts tend to take dogma and run with it, and the other dogs chase them. Introverts tend to look under the hood a little more, listen to the noises and see what adds to the collective harmony rather than banging through every barricade. The simplest way of putting this is that Evil is the result of an action taken based on unquestioned beliefs, and the difference between introverts and extroverts is whether they question beliefs or use them as a tool to control others. When expediency is important, the latter will probably succeed, but many of the things we are told are immediate threats turn out to be less threats than profit-making opportunities for vested interests (usually oil or religions).
    Procrastination and introspection are sorely missing in today's world of instant gratification and pseudohero worship.
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    Apr 10 2012: Hi Adrian,

    Great question. Having worked with a coach on my leadership ability I consider your question a great deal. James raises the question about the difference between a leader and a manager, you ask about leadership which I believe presupposes INFLUENCE. Leadership is quite the fashionable term and rightly people ask the difference between it and management. I see the two as different but interdependent. For me management is about doing tings right, that is to say, monitoring, checking, securing accountability essentially DOING THINGS RIGHT whilst leadership is about shaping vision and influencing change in others, essentially DOING THE RIGHT THINGS. so to come to your question, do introverts make better leaders? My coach told me that the basic difference between intro and extroverts is how we FORM and express THOUGHTS so taking this as a baseline I think Joe is correct, it's all relative. The countless factors which make a leader contribute to their effectiveness. Ultimately I would ask the question which trait INFLUENCES the most? Extroverts have a longstanding reputation for influencing others with powerful and vocal viewpoints but there is a Jim Collins discusses a resurgence of the unassuming leader who leads not with noise but a quiet professional will. I class myself as an AMBIVERT ( I believe most/many people are) and as such have an ability to move between intro and extrovert. This I believe is the most powerful leadership quality. Do let's move from extremes to recognizing our skills are in constant flux and add to the constant changing dynamics we currently call leadership.
  • Apr 10 2012: When considering this question one thing that you have to bear in mind is that when you are talking about introverts and extroverts is that you are talking about two opposite ends of a spectrum. No one is a complete introvert or extrovert. Just because a person takes on certain characteristics of one doesn't mean you can categorically place them in one of the two camps. As Mwenjew Wewngwa said its all relative. Leadership skills depend on the individual personality, character and how well they can lead and manage their team. Some people are better leaders than others and that's just the way it is.
  • Apr 10 2012: may be introverts can be better imaginary
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    Apr 10 2012: Well, how would you define a leader? One that brings people together, or one that can enforce a set of rules?

    On top of everything that has been said so far, I think there is also a great cultural element in determining what characteristic - extroversion or introversion - works better for a leader.
    For instance, in China where the societal norm is largely shaped by Confucianism, people are still inclined to think that there is an invisible demarcation between the ruling class and the ruled. In this context, a leader that is more charismatic and can speak his mind with determination and confidence is probably more appealing than a leader that is rather introverted.
    Of course, this is a very limited view; however, I do think that the underlying cultural development plays a role.
  • Apr 10 2012: A place you might be able to test these hypothesis is a quasi reality game show. The one Penn of Penn and Teller is on recently has had leaders across the spectrum, and part of the issue that is showcased sometimes in that situation is the ability to do what you are told and follow and project your idea.

    I think the mix of introverted and extroverted behaviors make for very effective leadership.

    I know that sometimes I rolled over people's ideas and I have a very direct approach. I also tend to switch between ideas quickly filling dead air. This would make me a horrible meditation leader but a reasonable good leader in more outgoing situations. Some introverted people I without the intent to kill their ideas. I do very much like trying to flesh out an idea of a fellow human.

    In conclusion my feeling is people that can walk the middle ground between extrovert and introvert to the right balance of their team frequently are the best choice for leadership.
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    Apr 9 2012: Truly excellent comments and discussion! :)

    If we also start to think of 'introvert' or 'extrovert' being more about that person's environmental preferences (for example, perhaps an 'introvert' might prefer a quieter, more contemplative place than an 'extrovert'), what else do we need to consider regarding introverts as leaders?

    Is this as much about the style and practice in which they conduct themselves as much as it is about being able to communicate and motivate (etc)?
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    Apr 8 2012: In a book by Dr. Nassir Ghaemi "A First Rate Madness" he suggests that many of the worlds greatest leaders throughought history have suffered from either depression or mania. The book is relatively well sourced in its interpretation of Ghandi, Churchill, Lincoln, Kennedy, etc., though, I think in some ways it just shows us how low the bar is set for mental illness nowadays...

    He makes a compelling argument though... And it relates to this discussion. I would suggest that a leader, must be either an introvert, an extrovert, or both, but never neither.

    In his words "In relation to the recent debt crisis, my sense is that most of our current leaders, are just normal, average mentally healthy people, and... They... Just might not be up to the task"

    Well, what kind of leader do you think we need today?"

    "Well the four traits of leadership that mania and depression enhance which I found in these leaders are; creativity, resillience, empathy, and realism. We should be looking for those traits in our leaders, and if we do, I think we may find out that they are often manic, or depressed, and if they are... We should be open minded about that and flexible, rather than stygmatize it"

    When you really think about it, manic people are often extroverts, depressed introverts... A bit of a strange idea to absorb, but there may just be a bit of truth to it.
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    Apr 8 2012: I agree with you Linda but in education they make managers principals and directors not always leaders. The vision is the key and I would like to add that the leader not only holds the vision but should have the skill to impart the vision to the team and others and help them see where they fit within the vision without themselves feeling threatened. Do you agree?
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      Apr 9 2012: I absolutely agree. But sometimes it needs to be metered. Sometimes if you give too much of the big picture it can be overwhelming. I am not sure principles and directors are the true leaders. They seem to be more middle management. But I do not understand education at that level so I may be wrong.
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        Apr 9 2012: In my district they treat the managers as the leaders and teachers are treated as the lowest of the food chain. Even custodians are given more respect than teachers. The leaders come and go if you are talking about superintendents. We are a stepping stone district they leave little districts and move on to higher paying jobs. I teach in an independent study school and they start off any meetings with our staff (all 6 of us) with a threat before we have even been able to introduce the topic. I also lead the school site council and the principal tries to run the meetings and if not her the secretary tries to control it. I must constantly remind them that I am the president of the council and they are parts of the team but not the people responsible for making sure it is run according to the law. It is just the way it is in this district and these are the type of people they promote. It is sometimes a conflict to get things done correctly. I try always to stay positive and cordial but sometimes it takes a lot of effort LOL. We rarely get the big picture and when I do search for it we are reminded that we cannot talk with the directors as there is a military style top down structure in place and we are to follow it. Less leadership and more command and control. That is why I am so big on knowing the big picture so I can explain it to parents and others who ask.
  • Apr 8 2012: Today's society is very much lead by the people who shout and project their voices, the people who have every confidence in what they do even if it's bad , these people tend to be extroverts, but these people tend to be the people we follow, those with the out going personality. They get things going with noise and encouragement ect..
    where introverts take a more quiet response perhaps delegating to people to what they do best, allowing them to work alone which could improve performance. This really does come down to the task at hand, extroverts may be better at teamwork brainstorming activities where conversation and communication would come at a more central role. where introverted may be good at addressing those one to one on a more personal level laying out a stratagy and sticking to it allowing people to get on with the task at hand.
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    Apr 8 2012: I think introverts can become a better leader, the assumption is intorvert personality is very sensitive and can understand the issues more deeply and this is a good enough stock for intorvert, however, leadership is action, so introverts are sometimes forced to be extroverted personality in building influence to their comunity....
  • Apr 8 2012: Another approach this provocative question is to respond to its underlying belief that there are better ways to collaborate and improve.

    Much of our inability to create positive change results from our choice favoring form-building over function and from an over-reliance on vertical power structures versus horizontal interaction. These imbalances are a consequence of our bias to be lead by those who favor these approaches.

    We are at a place where we can benefit from restructuring our interaction by following the dictum, “form follows function”. By loosening our obsession with instituting static vertical power structures and, in their place, create collaborative spaces (like TED) where we create authentic interaction among individuals, we can find the being we seek.
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    Apr 8 2012: Generally speaking, introverts will be at ease when they spend time with their close family members and friends. in the aspect of work, maybe they r creative and intelligent . their power of being imaginative is beyond all doubt. i believe they can be great leaders both in business or in other domains.
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    Apr 8 2012: I guess I need to decide between what a leader is and what a manager is before I even think about introvert vs extrovert personalities. Maybe it is very situational dependent. There are places for an extrovert to lead and places for introverts to lead. The question for me becomes what is a leader? and is a leader different from a manager?
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      Apr 8 2012: Very true James,

      Leadership in the church requires a different set of qualities than say, leadership in the military or in a street gang.
      Its all relative.

      As you climb the corporate / military or whatever ladder it is, the task at hand ceases to be technical and becomes more of handling people, and how you make people do their job. Here is where you cannot deny the power of charm and charisma.The bottom line for me is whether one has these people skills or not

      Have we gotten to the place where were we are now asking are dictators better than charismatic leaders ?
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        Apr 8 2012: I must ask this question and I know is seems silly but is there at the core really a difference between dictators and leaders if the dictator is very charismatic? This assumes that we can separate these ideas from the questionable or even illegal and immoral acts of historical dictators.
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      Apr 8 2012: This is a very simple concept and it is easy to see. You just have to know that it has nothing whatsoever to do with position.

      A leader makes it possible for people to do their job. A manager makes people to their job.

      That's pretty much it.

      Some of the skills are the same but that's pretty much it. I disagree with Mwenjew Wewngwa. I think leadership is leadership. The skill set is the same whether church or military. People are people in spite of the setting. The management across military and church is very different.
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        Apr 8 2012: Interesting thought and I appreciate you sharing it. Could a leader be thought of as an enabler and a manager as a forcer?
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          Apr 8 2012: Perhaps in one domain. But that is really simplistic. Leaders and mangers do more than that. Leaders hold the vision that moves the company forward. This typically means they have to focus on what is happening externally as well as keep an eye focused internally to the company.

          Managers make sure everything works. Tend to the vehicle that moves the company. Their focus is typically within the organization. They are not mutually exclusive and so there can be confusion.

          Because of the overlap many people think that good managers are perfect for leadership positions. But that is not always the case. Sometimes the person in charge of business office should not be moved to the CFO position. Just because they are great with budgets does not mean they have the vision to project for strategic planning. Esp. ir they cannot think big enough or forward enough. The skills needed at the leadership level is to do the research and be able to project out 20 years. But that's just the baseline for my industry. I think that may be industry specific.
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        Apr 10 2012: Leadership is a subset of management. In management you plan, organise,lead and control.Leadership is leadership, stemming from your discrimination between leadership and management.but how good a manager can you be without leadership skills ? With my very limited corporate experience I believe that effective managers must have the capacity to lead and inspire the group of people they are responsible for managing.I am trying to picture a gang leader trying to head our large financialinstitution .....or even a religious organisation......HTTP 404 i.e Horizontal intergration, vertical however does work, but not all the time. I would also like to point out that leadership in any organisation is not only restricted to the head.read visionary.leadership is required in all areas and levels of the organisation but what changes is simply the type of leadership. ieleadership in operational tactical levels is different from strategic level .what you are referring to.just because you are not at the top or even at stragetic level doesnt mean you are not a leader and do not require leadership skills
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          Apr 12 2012: I disagree. Management is a sub-set of leadership. You can delegate management but you cannot delegate leadership. There are plenty of really great managers with NO leadership ability at all. They do not want it they will not take it. Management is TASK driven. They are not paid to inspire they are not paid to think. They are paid to do the tasks assigned to them and report the results. They simply have people that report to them that are there to help them complete the task.

          Many managers are happy with their management tasks and cannot make a decision or strategically plan. You only need one leader with a vision and that vision needs to be articulated to management that then carries out the vision.

          There are many many books out there on this subject. You might want to invest some time in one.

          Let's take your military example. It is very clear to know who the leader of the US military is. It is the President of the US. If he makes a decision say, to destroy a foreign dictator and replace the government with a democratic one, he communicates that to the heads of the military who then are duty bound to make that happen. They are not allowed to question the decision. They are not allowed to project what the results of the decision will be. They are not allowed to research the broader social implications of the decision. They make it happen. They articulate the vision to the people who report to them who articulate the vision to the people who report to them and so on until some guy is on the ground in Bagdad. They may need to make decisions and strategize within the scope of their influence but that minimal leadership is bound by rank.
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        Apr 12 2012: Strong point Linda ! strong point !
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    Apr 7 2012: I believe that a true leader should not be either or actually should be both at the same time. there are character virtues of a leader in introvert (calm, steady, no sudden moves) and extrovert (candid, daring, progressive) personality.True leader finds the balance (that works for him) and use it as situation demands.

    Yet in the world of democracy, lobbying; when a leader is to be chosen (even by shareholders) the charms and wits of a extrovert person, will prevail more often. The social appeal of a presidential candidate is just as important as hem / her being calm. this is very evident during political campaigning.
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    Apr 6 2012: Do introverts make better leaders?


    In my opinion, in my vision of what should have a leader, a genuine leader, are found in the persons that tend to be more in the label of introvert.

    Why introverts could be better leaders than the extroverts?

    Extroverts are persons that like the attention, being accept for persons. The extroverts tend to say everything to like or to receive congratulations from the audience that is watching them, take like an example the classmate that always was saying funny or interesting things, or even making problems, just to have the attention and the approval of others.

    The extrovert for that necessity of attention and acceptation would say things that in the end are not for the good of all, he is looking for self satisfaction. Another problem that I can perceive in the extroverts is that the majority haven’t get to know them self, they don’t know who they are. For this reason they maybe don’t have the values so strong and for this they would not be able to have a poor connection with other people.

    This idea came from these two talks:
    Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action
    Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

    An introvert that is a leader, become a leader because he felt that was a obligation that was imposed because the lack of persons prepare to be a leader. And this idea of being a leader became a responsibility because there is no worst punishment that being leaded by a worst person than them. So a introvert would have a more fair judgment because he is doing this for the right reason, not for money or recognitions, he is doing this to lead properly all the persons behind him.

    This last idea that I wrote is in this book:
    The Republic by Plato.
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    Apr 6 2012: I believe leaders are born to be leaders so if they were introvert for a while, it shouldn't effect, i think, no like managers who should communicate a lot with people.
  • Apr 3 2012: In his 2001 book "Good to Great" Jim Collins discussed the relationship between humility and leadership in many succesful companies e.g. Warren Buffet. Extraverts tend to strive for status, power, and influence and as Susan mentions in the video this can be associated with getting engaged and taking over instead of stepping back and let people get on with the job, so extraversion can be counterproductive. However, we are conditioned to believe that leaders should exhibit certain traits - those typically associated with extraversion, so introverts may make good leaders, but may not always be valued by followers. There are a lot of other factors that go into the mix as well, but bottom line - it's tough to build a career unless you can move towards ambivert.
  • Apr 3 2012: I love Susan Cains message that the pressure is on us introverts to step out, no matter how uncomfortable it is, to take the leadership role. The authenticity of our thoughts (we are not selling anything) ends up attracting followers and even bigger movements. An interesting related TED talk is "The First Follower" by Derek Sivers http://blog.ted.com/2010/04/01/how_to_start_a/ (Hint... it takes GUTS!)
  • Apr 3 2012: Maybe the cause and effect is the other way around. Someone who finds himself being a leader, due to real values, virtues and abilities adopts a more closed protective style or expressing thoughts and feelings, understanding what an influence an early rush decision and expression of that decision might have. Imagining an introvert able leader or an extrovert able leader and comparing them, letting our imagination play to the more extreme scales of those characteristics, both able leaders lack the ability to control their signals. In other words if an extrovert is someone who needs to restrict the communication of emotions better and an introvert is someone who needs to do a better job in showing those emotions and messages outside, then they both lack if they don't compensate. I stick to the communication and messaging of facts and emotions because leadership involves others, it's not a self centered role.