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Adrian Malpass

Business Developer (Emotionally Intelligent), The Experience Group

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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 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.
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        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.
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          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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