Although being extroverted and charismatic might not be the exact same thing, the study goes on to reveal that you don’t necessarily need to be charismatic (or for that matter extroverted) to be a successful leader.
“You don’t have to be this big, magnanimous, extroverted, charismatic CEO. I think my study is good news for introverts.”
The fact is we need both extroverts and introverts as leaders. Research by Harvard Business Review has found that in unforeseeable and complex scenarios, introverts make better and more efficient leaders. The report stated –
“In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders – particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business. Such behavior can make extroverted leaders feel threatened.”
Introverts are better able to manage situations which extroverts find hard to navigate. Being calm, introspective and quiet is crucial for organizational success in the long run.
Reasons why introverts make great leaders
Introverts are expert leaders. In fact, they can even be better leaders than extroverts as introverts have certain qualities and advantages over their loud and outspoken counterparts.
If you can’t imagine introverts as leaders, then here are a number of excellent reasons why introverts can be strong and successful leaders in business and in life:
1. They are excellent problem solvers
Problem-solving skills are crucial for good leadership. Introverts solve problems by giving attention to details, rather than being in a hurry. According to a 2012 report by Randy Buckner of Harvard University, introverts have “thicker gray matter in their prefrontal cortex – a region of the brain that is linked to abstract thought and decision-making”. Buckner believes this is why introverts think things “thoroughly before making a decision”.
This makes introverts adept at observation, abstract thinking and decision making. Hence, they come to a decision only after considering all aspects and possible outcomes. They think significantly about every decision and reflect on finding creative problem solving techniques. Studies have also found that introverts don’t take snap decisions that frequently. It was found that “introverts are better at decision making than extroverts”. Introverts rely on facts as well as intuition to make a decision. When you can solve problems effectively, your team will stand by you and remain productive.
2. They are well prepared
“Introverts think carefully before they speak. We can be excellent public speakers because we prepare carefully.” – Sophia Dembling
Although introverts are not known for their public speaking skills, they can make a compelling presentation when they need to. Being master of research and preparation, they think and plan effectively before the act and speak. In meetings and presentations, introverts are the most prepared individuals in the room and when they speak, they add value to the conversation. Equipped with knowledge, introverts speak calmly, deliberately and with clarity which creates a powerful and strong presence.
3. They are strong willed and humble
Leadership requires a lot of subtle traits and introverts seem to be masters at owning those specific skills. Being self-aware, reflective, honest and resilient, introverts are naturally programmed to lead. Introverts are goal-oriented individuals who do not seek the fringe benefits of being a leader. They do not lead to gain praise, but to empower and help others improve and grow. As they have a strong willpower, they do everything necessary to achieve a goal.
Moreover, introverts are exceptionally humble and welcome all sorts of input from employees which leads to the creation of an open environment of trust and collaboration.
4. They are expert listeners
Paying attention to what your employees and clients are saying and understanding what is left unsaid is an essential leadership trait. Introverts as leaders are great observers and listeners who pay attention to every little detail. They listen and understand what everyone in the room has to say and will speak only when they can say something meaningful. As they are not interested in being the center of attention, they put the limelight on others and appreciate ideas and suggestions from everyone around them. Listening and learning from others is a valuable leadership skill and introverts excel in that.