- Daily Zen
Introvert Leaders vs Extrovert Leaders. Who makes a better leader? The answer is neither. Leadership review of extroverts has led to believe that they are energized by external stimuli – they bring vision, assertiveness, energy and the networks necessary to succeed in a mission. But, is that all one needs to be a successful leader? President Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill Gates are all introverts, and world’s greatest leaders, but is it their trait of introversion that makes them successful leaders?
The generalization around leadership styles of introverts and extroverts is puny. It doesn’t hold under scrutiny. For example: How many of you are extroverts and also happen to mull over before proceeding with a deal? How many of you are extroverts and yet still prefer ‘me’ time? How many of you are very introverted and also happen to be the life of a party?
Generalization is unimaginably puny. Let’s move on from viewing a group a certain way. Moreover, research suggests most people are ambiverts, i.e. not on the extreme side of the scale. Depending on the situation, they display qualities of either introversion or extroversion. This means that personality can say anything conclusive about leadership capabilities of an individual.
In 2011, Harvard Business School performed a study where college students were asked to fold a particular number of t-shirts to win an iPod Nano. The group with introvert leaders and proactive members were 28% more productive than groups with extrovert managers. Harvard Business School performed the same study in a pizzeria, where he found that stores managers by introverts were able to successful yield 14% higher weekly profits when proactive employees participated in brainstorming for improvements.
Groups with introvert leaders and passive members miserably failed because they were unsuccessful at engaging and motivating each other.
Groups with extrovert managers and proactive members, butt heads so much that they couldn’t achieve anything.
As expected, groups with extrovert managers and passive members, on the other hand, were able to produce profits but failed to generate new ideas.
This finding is called Dominance Complementarity. A group gets along best when the tendency to dominate is balanced between leader and the people. When group members are proactive and take the initiative, champion a better vision and better strategies, introvert managers are at an advantage. On the other hand, extrovert managers feel more threatened when proactive employees promote new vision and strategies, and challenge leaders’ authority and dominance. As a result, extrovert managers tend to be less receptive, and easily shoot down new ideas and suggestions, discouraging employees from contributing at the workplace. Introvert managers are more receptive listening to suggestions from team members.
Extrovert leaders can be highly effective when members of the team are ideal followers. Being around people gives them assertiveness. Extroverts’ vision and positive energy gives members a direction.
Introverts leaders can be highly effective in bringing out the best in others and building relationships and trust one-on-one. They prefer problem-solving through deep reflection and internal analysis. They need time to formulate their thoughts, to build up the courage to share them with the rest of the team members. This encourages extroverts to listen, reflect, and be open to perspectives of their peers. However, introverts carry an extra burden at workplace – a stigma that they can never be a successful leader.
Leadership is about is not about whether one is an extrovert leader or an introvert leader. It’s about vision, passion, and belief in the vision. Organization’s favor logical and decisive behavior in leadership. Extroversion and introversion are preferences, both bring strengths and weakness to the table. The downside sometimes can be that extroverts can become too chameleon-like in their efforts to please others, or too absorbed to lead a group. While, introverts can become too isolated and internalized.
Neither personality type is a good leader to the extreme. They are at their best when they are able to exhibit core values and put others above themselves. Both the personality types excel when they hire the right people and learn to delegate tasks the right way.