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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 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.

    • 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.

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