Here’s Why Introverts Make The Best Leaders
It’s widely believed that extroversion is a necessary requirement for successful leadership. However, such a notion couldn’t be farther from the truth, especially when you consider that some of the world’s greatest leaders are introverts, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk. In the modern era, it’s the introverts who are taking charge in the workplace, and while it may be easy to dismiss them as passive, it would be wiser to see what they can bring to the table.
Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, knows from personal experience just how powerful introversion can be. She recently spoke to Slate about her years as a corporate lawyer and the challenges she had to overcome as an introvert at her firm. She explained that her introversion allowed her to conduct her work in a quiet and thoughtful way, and that ultimately worked to her advantage. In a job like hers where negotiation skills are crucial, being able to “listen deeply and come up with constructive arguments that work for everyone” helped her to be successful in her role.
“For an introvert, even if they’re very socially skilled and great at small talk, at the end of the two hours, they feel as if their internal battery is being drained and they’re starting to wish that they can go home,” she added.
Of course, that exhaustion must not be confused with shyness, which is more about the fear of social judgment. Not being vocal because you want to encourage an exchange of ideas is not the same as not being vocal because you feel intimidated by other people and their potentially opposing perspectives. In fact, Cain mentioned that there are even studies that demonstrate introverted leaders tend to deliver better outcomes than extroverted ones because they just naturally inspire a more collaborative atmosphere.
“Introverted leaders…want to listen to the ideas that their employees are bringing forward. Whereas, if you are a leader who is more irrepressible or dominant by nature, you might sincerely want to know other people’s ideas but have a conversational style where you’re not getting them as much and you’re less likely to follow them because you tend to put your own stamp on things.”
That said, as open as introverts are to collaboration, they still need to push themselves, by themselves, whenever they have an opportunity to do so. Independent learning is still a core part of their essence, so they should never feel that they must change that aspect of themselves in order to be successful. At the same time, it’s also vital that they step out of their comfort zones, beyond the confines of their reservedness, so that they can continue to grow as effective leaders and team members.
Check out Susan Cain’s full interview on Slate.